Netanyahu speaks at Likud faction meeting.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
The new head of the Likud central committee, Social Welfare Minister Haim Katz, promised Wednesday that he will not use the post he won Tuesday to cause headaches for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Katz replaced current ambassador to the UN Danny Danon in the role.
Danon regularly challenged Netanyahu and took him to court.
Netanyahu officially did not support anyone in the race, though he was thought to back coalition chairman Tzachi Hanegbi.
Katz was seen as the candidate he least wanted because of his independence and friendship with frequent Netanyahu critic and former minister Gideon Sa’ar.
“I have no intention of restraining Netanyahu,” Katz told Army Radio. “If the people of Israel want Netanyahu to win 20 more times, I have no problem with that.”
Katz said he would not support a controversial proposal requiring any candidate running for at least a third term to win 60 percent of the vote.
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The proposal is seen as a de facto term limit for the prime minister.
Netanyahu called Katz when results were in and said he was looking forward to cooperating with him. He also called the candidates who lost the race.
Katz defeated Hanegbi by a vote of 1,142 to 962. MK David Amsalem finished third with 601 votes and MK Yaron Mazuz fourth with 164 votes.
The prime minister said he was satisfied that the central committee endorsed his proposal to advance the next Likud leadership race to February 23.
Some two thirds of the committee members who voted backed the proposal.
Netanyahu is unlikely to face any competition in the race, though MK Oren Hazan has considered running to protest his treatment by top party officials.
Former Likud MK Moshe Feiglin, who ran for Likud leader multiple times, said he intended to run instead in his new party, Zehut.
“I thank the thousands of central committee members who exercised their democratic right and united behind my proposal,” Netanyahu said.
“The members proved once again that we have the most democratic party in Israel.”
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