Sources within the Jewish Home party accuse MK Zevulun Orlev, a candidate for party chairman, of trying to change the rules of the primaries because the latest polls predict that he will be defeated by Naftali Bennett.
Minister Daniel Hershkowitz has sent a letter to the party's Enrollment Committee expressing his opposition to Orlev's moves. Bennett also intends to send such a letter to the committee.
Sources in the party said that Orlev has filed a motion against the validity of the enrollment drive, and is also attempting to get it to cancel the arrangement in which the vote for chairman takes place one week before the vote for the rest of the party's Knesset list. Orlev wants the two votes held on the same day.
The Enrollment Committee is to decide Tuesday whether it will postpone both the vote for chairman and the vote for the Knesset list by one week each, because of difficulties in completing membership registration.
Orlev's rivals say he hopes to hurt Bennett by uniting the two votes, since unlike Orlev and Hershkowitz, Bennett is not only running for the chairman's position but has also fielded a list for the Knesset primaries. Holding the votes on the same day would split his vote, with some of his supporters presumably voting for him as chairman but not voting for his list of candidates for Knesset. If the primaries are held on different days, his Knesset list is expected to fare better.
Orlev's headquarters said in response that he has opposed the changes in the Jewish Home's procedures from the outset and that it therefore stands to reason that he would also oppose the proposal to postpone the primary dates by a week. They explained that delaying the vote would be unfair to members who have already scheduled trips abroad, vacations, medical procedures and other obligations for the week after the current date for the Knesset list primaries.
"Unlike the other candidates who see their own interests as paramount," the HQ said, "Orlev sees the interests of the party and its members as paramount."