Likud party pri­maries are can­celled

The Jewish Chronicle - - WORLD NEWS - BY ANSHEL PFEFFER

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.

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