Just a few weeks after he first made the announcement, it can be determined unequivocally that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to advance the Likud’s leadership primary — intended to stymie potential rivals — has succeeded beyond all expectations. In just a little over a month, on Feb. 23, Netanyahu will run unchallenged for the position. Some 100,000 party members will be asked to choose between him and a blank ballot.
Given that he is the only candidate, the Likud’s Central Election Committee met Jan. 11 to discuss the possibility of canceling the entire election process, which would save the party some 4 million shekels ($1 million). Another option raised during the discussion was to offer voters two distinct options on Netanyahu: “Aye” or “Nay.” The prime minister opposed both options, and insisted that he run against a blank ballot instead. He rejected the first option so that party officials could not claim in the future that a second primary round should be held, since elections were not held when scheduled. The second option was out of the question. Netanyahu was worried about being humiliated. As expected, he got exactly what he wanted.