Netanyahu to Compete Against Himself in Vote for Likud Chair

Likud decides to hold vote for party chairmanship, though Netanyahu is sole candidate.

Netanyahu at a Likud faction meeting, July 2015.
Emil Salman

The vote for the Likud chairmanship will go ahead as planned next month though Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is the sole contender for the position, the Likud election committee decided Monday.

The list of candidates to head the Likud closed Sunday with Netanyahu being the only person to throw his hat in the race, assuring that he will lead the party in the next general election. The party's central election committee had the possibility of canceling the vote and reaffirming Netanyahu's appointment as the party's chairman, but officials fear the move could face legal issues.

The vote, slated for February 23, will have two ballots: one with Netanyahu's name on it and the other blank. The vote will cost around 4 million shekels ($1 million).

MKs Oren Hazan and Avi Dichter, both of whom had been mooted as possible challengers, decided not to run given Netanyahu’s broad support.

“There’s no doubt Netanyahu scored a victory over anyone who wanted to contend against him,” a senior Likud official said. “But the move may end up boomeranging because it could anger significant people like Gideon Sa’ar, Yisrael Katz and others who see themselves as potential party leaders.”

Sa’ar, a former education and interior minister, took a time-out from politics in 2014. Katz currently has two portfolios – transportation as well as intelligence and atomic energy.