Netanyahu denies mulling advanced Likud primary

Source close to PM says while such a move is always an option, it is currently not Netanyahu's intention.

PM Netanyahu at cabinet meeting 370 (R) (photo credit: Pool / Emil Zalman / Haaretz)
PM Netanyahu at cabinet meeting 370 (R)
(photo credit: Pool / Emil Zalman / Haaretz)
Sources close to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu denied a report in the Ma’ariv newspaper Wednesday that he intends to advance the next primary for leader of Likud.
Netanyahu took such a step in January 2012, catching his rivals off guard. He could justify moving up the race again, because Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich took such a step in her party.
Potential reasons for Netanyahu advancing the race include a desire to take advantage of his current popularity and an intention to hold the primary before possible concessions to the Palestinians in the current diplomatic process.
But a source close to the prime minister said that “at the moment he does not intend to advance the primary.”
Another Netanyahu associate said that “such a move is always an option, so the headline is never actually wrong but that doesn’t make it right either.”
In the 2012 primary, then-vice premier Silvan Shalom and other possible candidates decided not to run, leaving current MK Moshe Feiglin as Netanyahu’s sole challenger.
Shalom’s associates declined to respond to the Ma’ariv report.
Feiglin denounced the report as a rumor. He said he was ready to run at any time, but that for the good of the Likud, he hoped the report was not true.
“This trend of holding primaries whenever it is good for the leader is a sign of the deterioration of our democracy,” Shalom said.
“That is not the way a democracy should be run.”