Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) with Likud members at the party's primaries in 2012.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
The Likud will open 600 polling stations at 115 sites across the country on Wednesday to enable its 96,651 members to cast ballots for the party’s leader and the rest of its Knesset candidates in the March 17 general election.
Seventy candidates will vie for what polls indicate will be between 20 and 25 seats in the Knesset. All of the party’s current 18 MKs are running, except for retiring minister Limor Livnat.
A battle will take place between MKs Tzipi Hotovely, Gila Gamliel, and Miri Regev to be the party’s top woman.
Hotovely received the most votes among female candidates – including Livnat – in the last Likud primary two years ago.
Former minister Avi Dichter and former MKs Ayoub Kara and Michael Ratzon are running, as is Nava Boker, the widow of police commander Lior Boker, who died in the 2010 Mount Carmel forest fire.
Among the 70 candidates, 38 are running for the party’s top 17 slots. Voters choose 11 candidates for those slots.
The voters will also select a candidate to represent their particular region. There are 32 candidates for slots reserved for candidates from regions.
Unlike past elections, there are no American-born candidates running for realistic slots. American- born Temple Mount activist Yehudah Glick, who was critically wounded by a would-be Palestinian assassin in October, is seeking the 33rd slot reserved for a candidate from Judea and Samaria, but the slot is not considered realistic.
In recent races, there were Knesset campaigns by US-born basketball legend Tal Brody, respected strategist Mitchell Barak, and Likud activists Daniel Tauber and Mordechai Taub.
In the Jerusalem region, which controls the 21st slot on the Likud list, there is a candidate with an American mother: former Jerusalem city councilman Yair Gabbay. His mother made aliya from Queens, New York, and married his father, former MK Eli Gabbay. Yair went to an English-speaking kindergarten in Jerusalem.
“The English speaking community has its needs,” he said.
“They want someone who can defend Israel on CNN and abroad. With the knowledge and experience I bring, I can make Israel look better.”