Report: Netanyahu's wish to hold flash primaries faces resistance from within party

PM reportedly wants flash primaries to catch political opponents unprepared to run against him. Senior Likud officials oppose the idea.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Senior Likud members are preparing to fight an initiative sought by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to hold flash primaries for the party leadership.

According to a report this morning, Sunday, in Yediot Aharonot, senior party officials have already announced that they will oppose the idea promoted by Netanyahu, which is intended to catch his opponents unprepared.

Some senior officials said in closed-door talks that they refused the move on the grounds that it was "undemocratic" and contrary to the Likud constitution. Opponents of the initiative include the chairman of the Likud Center, MK Haim Katz, the chairman of the Likud secretariat, Minister Israel Katz, and the outgoing Minister of Health, Yuli Edelstein, and MK Nir Barkat, who declared his opposition to the primaries at the large conference on Thursday. Both he and Edelstein are considering running against Netanyahu themselves.

Haim Katz said last night: "Bibi was overwhelmingly elected chairman of the movement for the next four and a half years and no one is questioning that. So why exactly should primaries be held now? Bibi must lead the opposition, act to overthrow the government and concentrate on that." The opposition of Katz and the chairman of the Likud secretariat, Israel Katz, is significant, since advancing the primaries requires the approval of Likud institutions.

A senior Likud official claimed that members of the faction were afraid to speak out against Netanyahu, since he had not yet decided on the appointments to the few positions left for the Likud in the opposition. "The more the Likud loses the government assets it had, the greater will be the internal criticism of Netanyahu," a senior Likud official said. "The only thing that separates the Likud from power is Bibi Netanyahu. The Netanyahu era is nearing an end. What holds this change government together is Bibi. As long as he stays, the Likud will remain in the opposition."

There will be another battle for the position of chairman of the Likud faction. Netanyahu is interested in replacing faction chairman Miki Zohar and appointing instead outgoing Knesset speaker Yariv Levin. Netanyahu is pressuring Levin to accept the position due to his experience in management of Likud and previous Netanyahu-led coalitions. A senior Likud official claimed that only Likud members would determine the identity of the faction's chairman, with secret ballots, and not Netanyahu.