The Likud convention took place in Tel Aviv on Wednesday night, overshadowed by the absence of the party's chairman, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Thousands of the Likud supporters attended the first party event held ahead of the January elections. Most Likud ministers and Knesset members were in attendance.
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Minister Moshe Kahlon, who announced recently he won't contend in the upcoming primaries, took the spotlight at the event, with many supporters urging him to stay in politics.
Popular minister. Kahlon (Photo: Motti Kimchi)
"We must secure spots for Mizrahi (politicians)," said Asi Levy, deputy mayor of the Karnei Shomron settlement. "Most of Likud's voters are Mizrahim, but all we have left is an Ashkenazi list.
"Kahlon's departure will compromise Likud because 80% of the party's voters are Sephardi, but hardly any of us are on the list," he added.
Former MK Akiva Nof called on Kahlon to reconsider his hiatus from politics as well, saying "it's very important for the party."
Wednesday convention (Photo: Motti Kimchi)
Addressing the convention, Kahlon thanked the activists for letting him represent them for a decade.
"I championed neighborhoods, the middle class," he said. "I championed those who don't have the means, but want to instigate change. We have been brought up on social values; maintaining the rule of law, respecting state institutions and the right to a nation in the Land of Israel, with an undivided Jerusalem as its capital."
The outgoing minister lauded Likud for being an equal opportunity party and praised Netanyahu as an "excellent" leader.
During the convention, Likud members approved the date for the party's primaries, officially scheduling the vote for November 25.
Earlier Netanyahu instructed the party administrators to double the number of voting stations in order to increase voter turnout in the preliminary elections, purportedly in order to undermine the extreme Right within the party.
Shahar Chai contributed to the report
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