Over 3,700 Likud members are set to vote Wednesday on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's bid to reschedule the party's primaries, allegedly in an attempt to thwart any threat by potential rivals to take control of the party away from him ahead of the elections. The vote is the first major test for the prime minister ahead of the 2015 elections.
The secret ballot held Wednesday morning will determine whether the faction's delegates support the prime minister's initiative to push up the party's primaries to December 31 and approve his request for reserved spots on the list.
The polls, which open at 10 am and operate until 10 pm, will host Likud members from Tiberias, Haifa, Netanya, Tel Aviv, Holon, Ashdod, Be'er Sheva, Jerusalem, and Ariel – to decide on the future of the faction.
Party delegates were sent messages Tuesday night asking them to appear at the polls. To conduct the secretive ballot, Netanyahu's supporters needed to present 380 signatures of party activists.
Delegates, however, claimed that not enough signatures were collected; the committee chairman, Danny Dannon, announced that the measure will be voted on and dismissed the convention.
Dissent against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was evident Tuesday evening at the Likud party conference in Ariel, where 500 or so party members and activists were in attendance.
The mention of party leader Netanyahu's name led to loud booing from attendees, and a series of proposals on the table at the conference sought to torpedo moves the prime minister was promoting ahead of the primaries and general elections.
Likud MK Moshe Feiglin's attempted to cancel Netanyahu's proposal to reserve spots in the party's Knesset list and to promote representatives in different districts to higher spots on the list, but the motion was rejected.
If Netanyahu's proposals are rejected, the Likud delegates will convene again on December 25 to decide who will determine the party's Knesset list for the upcoming elections. If this were to happen, the Likud delegates will likely take the task of putting together the list on itself.
"The prime minister has put a proposal on the table that doesn't do and won't do good for the Likud," Michael Fuah, who is close to Feiglin, said. "He is actually promoting a grab for power and intends to bring forward the primaries as well as unite the proposals for the head of Likud and for the party's Knesset list to be put to a vote on the same day. This is incomprehensible and unacceptable."
Netanyahu proposed to bring the primaries forward from January 6 to December 31, noting the party needed enough time to prepare for the general elections. Likud officials, however, accused Netanyahu of seeking to bring the primaries forward to foil attempts of former interior minister Gideon Sa'ar to unseat him as the head of the party by not leaving Sa'ar enough time to prepare for the primaries.
At the opening of the conference in Ariel, the party delegates protested the fact the gathering was held in a venue that can only accommodate 700 people, and prevents 3,500 others with voting rights to attend.