Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered the keynote speech at the Likud conference on Sunday and urged that speedy elections will take place in the coming months in order to stabilize Israel's political system.
"For dozens of years the government was not very stable," Netanyahu said. "I will not lend a hand to an elections campaign of a year and a half that would destabilize the government. I prefer short elections of four months that could quickly bring back the stability to the political system."
"We will form a broad government and continue to powerfully lead the state of Israel – in order to ensure the future of the Israeli nation in the State of Israel," he said.
While Netanyahu spoke of speedy elections, he did not mention the exact date of the upcoming elections, which many in Israel believe will be September 4.
Netanyahu was also met with some opposition within Likud on Sunday, when MK Danny Dannon announced that he intends on running against him for the role of president of the Likud Central Committee. Minister Michael Eitan is also expected to run against Netanyahu and Dannon.
The prime minister suffered a setback when Eitan collected the hundreds of signatures from Likud Central Committee members necessary to mandate a secret ballot for a vote for the president of the party convention. Netanyahu wanted the vote to be open, which is considered to increase the likelihood of his victory.
The party decided that the vote would be secret, but would be held at a later date. Eitan and MK Danny Danon are both expected to run against Netanyahu for convention president.
Meanwhile, Labor chairwoman Shelly Yachimovich said on Saturday she would consider joining a Likud-led coalition only if she would be able to shape the government's agenda. Speaking to Channel 2 Television, she said that "only if Likud gets a relatively small number of seats and the possibility of creating a new agenda is at hand, we will consider such a partnership. Other parties will rush to join a Netanyahu government at any cost."
Yachimovich also said that if she becomes prime minister she will immediately launch peace talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and nurture Israel's relations with Egypt and Turkey.
Kadima officials accused Yachimovich of coordinating her strategy with Netanyahu. "Yachimovich and Netanyahu are waging an orchestrated assault on Kadima," aides to party leader Shaul Mofaz said yesterday, adding that Kadima would no longer put up with it. "Yachimovich lacks the most basic experience in every field. At the end of the day, this is how it goes: vote Yachimovich, get Bibi."
In response to Yachimovich's remarks, a Likud official said that Netanyahu will turn to Mofaz and centrist candidate Yair Lapid before seeking partnership with Labor, because of her economic policies that are not in line with Netanyahu's.
"We have more in common with Mofaz and Lapid than [far-right Foreign Minister Avigdor] Lieberman," the official added, alluding to Likud's current partnership with Yisrael Beiteinu.
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