Netanyahu moves Likud primary to January

By Eti Shechtman, December 5, 2011

The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netany a hu has rescheduled the elections to the Likud party's leadership to take place next month, two years before the general election.

The Likud party constitution states that the chairman should be elected no earlier than six months before general elections. But according to Likud officials the move will save the party money, as elections for Likud committees are due to take place on the same day.

However the early primary will also be seen to benefit the prime minister, who currently enjoys widespread support. Likud MK Gideon Saar, the Education Minister, said today in an interview with Galei Zahal radio that there was "no candidate who can challenge Netanyahu, and therefore there is no reason not to schedule an earlier date for the elections".

Many see the move as a way to challenge other candidates for Likud leadership and ensure Mr Netany a hu maintains his leadership for the next general election. The move raises difficulties for other candidates as the short time left will affect their ability to pursue successful campaigns.

Associates of Minister Silvan Shalom, who is expected to run for party leadership, plan to appeal against the move as illegal. In response to the rescheduled primaries, Moshe Feiglin announced that he would also put forward his candidacy

Last updated: 3:07pm, December 5 2011