The issue of who will lead the Likud as it enters the opposition is roiling the party just a day after the Bennett-Lapid coalition took over.
Opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu is encountering strong resistance to his plan to move up the party’s leadership primaries.
Former finance minister Yisrael Katz said in closed talks: “I intend to insist on this, the primaries will not be brought forward. We will not engage in civil wars now, matters within the Likud will wait,” according to Kan 11 news.
Other senior Likud figures, including Haim Katz, Yuli Edelstein, Nir Barkat, David Bitan are also against early primaries, which they believe will favor Netanyahu in his bid to continue as party chairman. Edelstein and Yisrael Katz have already talked about running for the Likud leadership, but will need more time to organize their supporters to challenge Netanyahu.
Meanwhile, as the largest of the opposition parties (or, for that matter, of the coalition parties), Likud automatically took over from Yesh Atid as head of the opposition.
As such, Netanyahu on Monday held the first meeting of the leaders of the opposition, which included Likud, Shas, UTJ and Relgious Zionism. Members of the Joint Arab List, who had been vociferous critics of Netanyahu throughout his tenure as prime minister, were not in attendance.
“I see the weaknesses in this government,” Netanyahu said. “It can be overthrown provided we act together and with iron discipline. If we clash within, we will not accomplish it.”