Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures during an appearance at a Likud faction meeting.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
If the next government is formed by the Likud, the future prime minister could be decided by Sunday at noon – the deadline the party set over the weekend for joining the February 23 leadership race.
As of Sunday night, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was the only candidate.
Netanyahu’s former number two, Gideon Sa’ar, has ruled out a run, calling the current race a “puppet show.”
Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon, who has run against Netanyahu twice, told Army Radio’s Yaron Deckel and Amit Segal Show Thursday he would remain in New York rather than run against Netanyahu this time, but he hinted that he would run for the Likud leadership again in the future.
Moshe Feiglin, who has run against Netanyahu four times, intends to run with a new party called Zehut. Beersheba physicist Vladimir Herczberg, who also has run for Likud leader multiple times, was unavailable for comment on Sunday.
Still, it is possible another candidate will enter the race at the last moment.
The new head of the Likud central committee, Social Services and Welfare Minister Haim Katz, said over the weekend that his first mission in his new post would be to run the leadership race.
“I hope that, in the end, there will not be candidates against Netanyahu – we can cancel the election and save a lot of money,” Katz told Israel Hayom. “I want to remind everyone that eight months ago, the Likud won 20 mandates.
All the talk of replacing [Netanyahu] and who will inherit his job are premature and have no chance.”
Coalition chairman Tzachi Hanegbi, who lost the central committee chairmanship race to Katz last week, announced over the weekend that he was forming a political camp in Likud to build on the support he received in his contest against Katz.
In an interview with Yediot Aharonot, he accused Katz of receiving his support from his former work colleagues at Israel Aerospace Industries and from activists in Judea and Samaria.
“I won the election in the State of Likud,” Hanegbi said.
“He won the election in the State of Judea and Samaria and the State of Israel Aerospace Industries.”