Likud party Central Committee head MK Danny Danon has ended weeks of speculations and announced that elections for the party leadership of Likud will take place on Wednesday 28th January 2015.
Danon also announced that a vote on a change of the party's constitution - including rules pertaining to the election of the party's Knesset list - will take place on December 24, 2014. The changes, proposed by party leader Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, would allow the party leader to install his preferred candidates for every tenth spot. Until now the party list in its entirety was voted on by Central Committee members.
The early primaries and the proposed change in constitution are being seen as an effort by Netanyahu to strengthen his position ahead of possible early general elections.
Danon said he understood Netanyahu's call to hold the elections earlier than had previously been planned, but stressed it was important that the party not send a message of "urgency" by holding sudden snap elections.
He noted that in order to uphold the democratic nature of the election process the candidates needed to be given sufficient time to prepare in advance.
"I will continue to fight for the values of equality and democracy in the party," he vowed, in a possible veiled swipe at Netanyahu - who recently fired Danon from his position as Deputy Defense Minister due to the latter's criticism of his handling of the Gaza war.
Following his dismissal, Danon has continued to regularly criticize the PM, and recently cancelled a session of the Central Committee in protest over what he called "underhanded opportunism" by Netanyahu.