Netanyahu announces early Likud primaries for January 31

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced Sunday night that Likud party primaries would be advanced to January 31, 2012.
The unexpected announcement came just a week after Netanyahu's opposition rival Tzipi Livni thwarted attempts in Kadima to hold primaries.
According to Israel Radio, Netanyahu is holding elections in order to show his strength within the party, and also in order to lessen the right-wing influence within the party ranks, which he believes he can achieve by holding Likud-council elections at the same time.
Netanyahu also wants to make a show of force against inner-party rival MK Silvan Shalom, who decided not to run against Netanyahu in 2007, but who may try to head off against the prime minister this time, according to Israel Radio.