Israel’s Netanyahu hopes to win his party’s leadership role in election

World Today

Israel’s Likud Party will hold its primary on Wednesday in a vote that is largely viewed as a referendum on the party’s leader, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Some of Netanyahu’s fiercest critics have come from his own party, although the prime minister is still expected to succeed. CCTV News reporter Roee Ruttenberg reported this story from Tel Aviv.

Israel's Netanyahu hopes to win his party's leadership role in election

Israel's Likud Party will hold its primary on Wednesday in a vote that is largely viewed as a referendum on the party's leader, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Some of Netanyahu's fiercest critics have come from his own party, although the prime minister is still expected to succeed. CCTV News reporter Roee Ruttenberg reported this story from Tel Aviv.

With nine years and three terms under his belt, Netanyahu is Israel’s longest-serving prime minister. It’s a trend that he’s hoping to continue if he can win early elections scheduled for March. To do that, he must first win the chairmanship of his Likud Party.

Some Likud parliamentarians said the prime minister was weak during the summer war on Gaza, by not finishing the job. They also accused him of betraying the settlement movement and abandoning the party’s right-wing vision.

But analyst Assaf Meydani, who describes Netanyahu as a survivor, thought his slight shift to the left was a tactical consideration.

“He has a great power in the Likud. The Likud voters, they know that even though you have to win the primaries, then you have to win the election, the general election. They know that a right-wing, too much right-wing Likud, is not enough,” Meydani said.

Netanyahu successfully fended off additional challengers from the far-right factions of his party by moving up the primaries from January to December. Insiders said the prime minister was worried his critics could benefit from the extra time.

Those closest to Netanyahu said he has reason to worry, but that he’s grown accustomed to efforts aimed at topping him, several coming from his own cabinet.

Gil Samsonov, former Netanyahu adviser and strategist, has known Netanyahu for more than 20 years and once served as his strategist. He said the problem is institutional.

“You are running the country, and your financial minister is a minister that wants to be instead of you. Your foreign minister says that he wants to be the prime minister. It’s crazy when your own ministers are fighting against you. It’s impossible to run a country in that way,” Samsonov said.