Likud Primaries: Netanyahu Implores His Base to Vote
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu made an "urgent speech" Tuesday afternoon urging Likud voters to cast their ballots due to low turnout for the party primaries.
Political analysts say Netanyahu fears an embarrassing outcome against rival Moshe Feiglin, who is expected to garner 20% or more of the vote.
"If people are complacent, stay at home, and say that the outcome is a foregon conclusion then the results will not represent the overwhelming majority of Likud," Netanyahu said. "I want every voter to get up, take action and cast their vote as they believe"
"Whoever supports my leadership of the Likud cannot abstain. I am what the Likud wants to be," he added.
A strong showing for Feiglin could have a serious impact on the constitution of the Likud party's list for the next elections and could make it impossible for Netanyahu to deny him a seat in the Knesset.
Polling stations were opened at 10:00 AM and are scheduled to close at 10:00 PM. However, many polling stations in Judea and Samaria, where Feiglin has strong Likud support, did not open until after noon leading to charges of irregularities.
Feiglin has petitioned the Likud election committee to extend voting until Midnight on Tuesday as a result.
Despite Netanyahu's strong position and almost certain re-election as party chairman, Netanyahu seemed anxious to ensure his base made the trek through inclement weather to the polls.
As of 4:40 PM only 20% of registered Likud voters had cast their ballots, which could favor Feiglin.
Barring an extension, official results will be published around midnight. Netanyahu is expected to win 80% of the vote. Those close to the Netanyahu say anything less would be regarded as "a failure."
Feiglin said earlier on Tuesday, "The election today is an election to decide the way of the Likud, the way of a large Jewish majority in Israel, and of the State of Israel. The question voters must answer at the polls is what direction to which they want the state of Israel to go.:
"Are we going to have a Jewish state strengthens the values of Judaism, which is why we returned here and built this country?" Feiglin asked Likud's voters.
"What I propose is exactly what Likud wants to be," Feiglin said in an interview. "I have no claim against Netanyahu. I think the Likud's national agenda is a Jewish agenda. If we do not have a Jewish state we will not have a country at all."
"I will work together with Netanyahu," Feiglin said. "In the end we are one party together. I am confident my way will win in the end."
During the primaries, Likud members will choose not only the head of their party, but also the composition of the party headquarters and branch councils.