Minister Haim Katz
Minister Haim KatzMiriam Alster / Flash 90

Elections for the chairmanship of the Likud Central Committee are to be held next month, and, according to Haaretz, the battle for one of the most influential political posts in the ruling party is heating up. 

After prodding from deputy coalition whip MK Miki Zohar, Welfare Minister Haim Katz has informed Likud ministers of his intention to run. He is expected to officially announce his candidacy in the coming days. 

Katz already enjoys the support of Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, and will also likely gain backing from former minister Gideon Sa'ar, considered the only viable Likud candidate to take over leadership of the party from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. 

Other candidates include coalition whip MK Tzahi Hanegbi and MK David Amsalem, who is supported by Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan and Senior Citizens Minister Gila Gamliel. 

“The Central Committee chairman can hold the prime minister by the balls,” one Likud minster told Haaretz. “He can force the date for elections of the chairman of the Likud and its candidate for prime minister on Netanyahu, and in doing so, aid, for example, Gideon Sa’ar if he decides to run for the position. A strong chairman of the Central Committee can send Netanyahu home by passing a decision that will limit the number of terms the leader of the Likud can serve."

According to one senior Likud figure involved in Katz's campaign, most Likud MKs are more likely to back Katz rather than Amsalem, primarily because of the latter's power among Likud grassroots activists. 

“The Likud MKs are worried Amsalem will threaten their status if he moves up and becomes chairman of the Central Committee. Katz doesn’t threaten anyone. He's already a minister. We can assume Bibi, even if he is not enthusiastic, will agree to promote this move."

“Many ministers and MKs have already made it clear to Katz that they support his candidacy and are committed to him," the official added.