Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reportedly is working to advance Likud primary votes, so as to prevent former Likud Interior Minister Gideon Sa'ar from challenging him for leadership of the party.
Sa'ar only has a week left before the period in which he can submit candidacy for Likud leadership ends, meaning that Netanyahu's advancement of the early January primaries presses him to make the decision in mere days.
Likud sources revealed that Netanyahu already last week held discussions to check whether primaries could be moved up, a move which would pressure Sa'ar, but which Netanyahu presented as being meant to increase preparedness for general elections on March 17.
Sa'ar, who last month stepped down to take a break from politics, was reported last week to be considering a sudden return to challenge Netanyahu.
Those considerations apparently were responded to last Friday by MK Miri Regev (Likud), who called on Sa'ar to return.
"Despite the efforts of the hallucinatory centrist parties to display false presentations, the next prime minister will be Binyamin Netanyahu," Regev said.
Speaking specifically about Sa'ar, she said "there is no doubt that if Gideon Sa'ar will run for the Likud leadership, it will change the face of reality. I call on him to come home at such an important time."
Likud Central Committee Chairman MK Danny Danon, who also is running in the primaries, hinted last month that both Sa'ar and former Likud minister Moshe Kahlon stepped down because of Netanyahu.
"The leaders of the movement must conduct a self-examination and find out why central and important people are leaving the Likud," said Danon.