Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is considering officially declaring that his next term as prime minister will be his last, Channel 12 reported Monday. Internal Likud polls show that such a declaration could prompt many on-the-fence voters to come out on Election Day and choose the Likud, giving the party enough seats together with its rightwing and chareidi partners to form a government of 61 MKs, the report said.
However, the polls say, it’s not certain that the declaration will put Netanyahu over the top – thus the hesitation to publicly declare that he will not run again. Netanyahu responded to the Channel 12 report in a radio interview Monday, saying, “I never told anyone that this was going to be my last term. I am quite strong enough to go on.”
Sources close to Netanyahu say the prime minister believes he needs another term “to fill out his vision for Israeli security and growth.” Likud insiders believe that if Netanyahu does win another term as prime minister and serves all or most of the government’s five-year term in that office, he would be unlikely to run again anyway.
Among the tasks he is likely to focus on in a new term is grooming a political heir; currently, there is no clear “second in command” in the Likud, and Netanyahu has been criticized by party insiders for failing to appoint one. Likud sources said that if Netanyahu does win another term and decides that it is his last, he is likely to feel more comfortable choosing someone to take over the Likud, so as not to leave the party rudderless when he does exit the political scene.