Israel Election Results: Netanyahu Walks Back on Snap Primary Meant to Curb Likud 'Coup'

Netanyahu had said holding a primary would 'shatter the illusion of a Likud rebellion,' in a move largely seen as a means to secure his leadership amid a political deadlock in coalition talks

Benjamin Netanyahu at the Knesset, Jerusalem, October 3, 2019.
Olivier Fitoussi

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu walked back on the possibility of holding a snap primary election which was meant to block a "coup" in his Likud party.

Likud announced Friday that Netanyahu supports the initiative by former Labor Minister Haim Katz for the party to convene on October 10 and decide that Netanyahu is the only prime ministerial candidate.

The party also said its members will be asked to only support joining a government which will be led by Netanyahu. Party members will not, however, be required to elect Netanyahu as the first person to assume the role of prime minister in the event of a rotation government.

>> Read more: Alongside pleas for unity, Netanyahu revealed his bluff: There will be no rotation agreement | Analysis 

On Thursday Likud had announced that Netanyahu was considering holding a snap primary to “shatter the illusion of a ‘Likud rebellion,’ which other parties hope for,” arguing that is what’s “holding other party leaders back from joining a national unity government.”

Moments after the statement was released, Likud rival Gideon Sa’ar tweeted: “I’m ready.”

Other ministers quickly came to the support of Netanyahu, including Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz and Culture Minister Miri Regev, in a move largely seen as an attempt on Netanyahu's behalf to be replaced as party leader if he fails in his effort to form a new government in the coming days.   

The annoucement comes amid a political deadlock in coalition talks. Netanyahu and Yisrael Beiteinu's Avigdor Lieberman met on Thursday for the first time since Israel's September 17 election, but Netanyahu's Likud party said "there was no breakthough" in stalled coalition talks.