(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s attempts to advance the next Likud leadership race hit a stumbling block on Monday, when two party rivals announced their intention to fight the move.
Netanyahu hoped the initiative would pass easily in the next Likud central committee meeting, which is expected to be held in the next few weeks. The prime minister asked his only definite competition, MK Moshe Feiglin, to coordinate a date with him, but Feiglin turned him down on Monday.
“Feiglin has not been persuaded that there is a good enough reason to hold quickie elections and give Netanyahu an open check for three years,” a source close to the MK said.
The source noted that the next general election is currently scheduled for November 2017, and he expressed concern the prime minister would use the time until then to shift leftward and advance a diplomatic process with the Palestinians.
Likud MK Danny Danon, who is also considering running against Netanyahu, came out firmly against plans the prime minister had to hold the primary next month.
“I will not lend a hand to political thievery,” said Danon, who heads the Likud central committee. “This is an election, not a coronation ceremony, so the date must be reasonable.
Already holding the race in November is not serious for a ruling party choosing its leader.”
Danon said some ministers had told him they also oppose the move. But Transportation Minister Israel Katz has endorsed it, as have MKs Yariv Levin and Ze’ev Elkin.
“Pretty much everyone is in favor except Feiglin and Danon,” a source close to Netanyahu said.
The prime minister met with MK Gila Gamliel on Monday and discussed a possible political promotion.
Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar will resign at the beginning of next month and will likely be replaced by Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan.
The two main candidates to replace Erdan are Gamliel and Levin, who have both been promised by Netanyahu they would receive the first available portfolio. When asked when Netanyahu would meet with Levin, the MK’s spokeswoman said he usually meets with the prime minister once a week.