Likud party primaries are cancelled
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU’S plan to secure his leadership of the Likud for the next seven years may have turned out to be too successful.
As no candidate put themselves forward to challenge the prime minister in the leadership primaries scheduled for next month, he will automatically be selected as the party’s candidate for the next elections, currently slated for late 2018. In the absence of challengers, the Likud election commission announced this week that the primaries were to be cancelled. Likud’s constitution mandates that primaries take place before a Knesset election.
Mr Netanyahu’s decision to bring these primaries forward was widely seen in the party as an attempt to secure his leadership until the eve of the election after next, which could be as late as mid-2023. Having won a surprising victory only 10 months ago, he was confident that he would beat all-comers.
Potential rivals, chief among them former interior minister Gideon Saar — who left frontline politics a year ago and is expected to be planning an eventual challenge to Mr Netanyahu’s leadership — seem to share his assessment.
Other prominent figures expected to run eventually are Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon, Transport Minister Yisreal Katz and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat.