Likud primaries on; Bibi runs against himself

Registered Likud voters will choose on February 23 between blank ballots or those with Binyamin Netanyahu's name printed on them.

Tags: Likud
Cynthia Blank ,

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

The Likud's election committee announced Monday that Likud leadership primaries will take place as scheduled, despite Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu being the only candidate. 

The committee, led by former Haifa District Court judge Menachem Neeman, voted unanimously to hold the vote though the ruling party's constitution says it is unnecessary if there is only one candidate. 

The primaries will be held throughout the country on February 23 and will cost the Likud an estimated four million shekels. 

Initially the election committee thought to cancel the election to save money, but under pressure from Netanyahu, it changed its mind. 

According to sources close to the Prime Minister, he feared if formal elections were not held, he would be left open for attack later.

MK Oren Hazan (Likud) indicated two weeks ago he would challenge Netanyahu in an effort to strengthen his standing in the Likud, but eventually chose not to. 

Be'er Sheva physicist Vladimir Herzberg also considered taking on Netanyahu, but refused to gather the 500 signatures from party constituents required to run. 

On Twitter Sunday, disgraced former minister Silvan Shalom's wife, Judy Shalom Nir-Mozes, joked she was tempted to run against Netanyahu but feared she might accidentally win. 

In the end, registered members of the Likud will choose between two ballots - one printed with Netanyahu's name and one left blank.