JERUSALEM (JTA) – Members of the Likud Party are going to the polls to elect the opposition party’s Knesset list.
Polls opened at 10 a.m. Monday for the party’s 99,000 registered voters to choose a slate of Knesset candidates for the upcoming national elections. The 400 polling places are using a computerized system.
In Jerusalem, polls opened late after a tractor severed a fiber-optic communications line in the city. Party chairman Benjamin Netanyahu is hoping the members will elect more centrist candidates in an effort to diffuse charges by the Kadima and Labor parties that Likud is too right wing to appeal to undecided voters. Netanyahu has been working to prevent Likud activist and religious nationalist Moshe Feiglin and his supporters from gaining positions on the party slate.
As of 10 p.m., some 42 percent of party members had cast their ballots. Many said they left polling places due to the long lines caused by the new computerized ballot system. Party leaders agreed to extend voting until 1 a.m. Feiglin has charged that the extension is designed to hurt his chances to get on the slate and has threatened to appeal the results to the High Court of Justice.
Also Monday, the public council of the Habayit Hayehudi Party, a conglomeration of four right-wing religious parties, was scheduled to choose the leadership of its party.