Gideon Sa'ar (Center) says goodbye to the Knesset, November 3, 2014. .
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
A vote by Likud's 3,700 central committee members on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s proposal for how to elect the party’s Knesset candidates and whether to move up the Likud leadership race, is being contested inside the Likud courts.
The vote is currently being viewed by a district court judge. The Tel Aviv District Court was asked for a restraining order to prevent the voting from continuing.
By 2:00 p.m. some 700 members had voted. Polling stations across across the country were slated to close at 10 p.m.
Earlier, former interior minister Gideon Sa’ar came out against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's proposal, telling journalists at a Tel Aviv polling station that it was wrong to change the rules of the game in the middle of the game.
The prime minister's former No. 2 in the Likud needs to decide by Sunday whether to join the party’s leadership race.
The prime minister proposal would enable to reserve slots on the Likud list for candidates of his choosing.
Netanyahu's request to bump up the Likud primaries from January 6 to December 31 is seen as an attempt to harm Sa’ar’s chances. Netanyahu wants the election for the party’s candidates to take place the same day, unlike in years past when they were chosen in a separate vote.
A decision by the central committee will be made on Thursday.
At a sparsely attended Likud central committee meeting in Ariel Tuesday night, party activists almost succeeded in canceling Wednesday’s secret ballot vote and instead holding an open vote by a show of hands already on Tuesday.
Netanyahu did not speak at the meeting, but he was expected to vote Wednesday. Polls opened at 10 a.m. in polling stations in 10 cities across the country and will close at 10 p.m.
The Likud’s law committee met late Monday night at Jerusalem’s Crown Plaza Hotel and reached a compromise between Netanyahu supporters, who wanted him to be able to reserve three slots, and his opponents in the party, who did not want him to be given any.
The law committee decided to give the party leader the right to choose the 11th slot on the list, as well as the 23rd slot, which polls indicate the Likud is on the cusp of winning.
Netanyahu has been looking to draft well-known public figures for the reserved slots. Names released as possibilities have included former minister Bennie Begin, economist Shlomo Maoz and basketball player-turned-international- statesman Tal Brody.
According to the proposal, current MKs will be ineligible to be named to the list from the 16th slot on down, to ensure that new candidates from different regions and sectors have realistic chances to be elected to the Knesset.