JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Likud Party reportedly voted overwhelmingly to approve merging its candidates list with the nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party.
Likud members gathered Monday at a party convention in Tel Aviv to vote on the proposal floated last week by the Likud chairman, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Yisrael Beiteinu head Avigdor Liberman, the foreign minister.
A move to put the vote on the proposal to a secret ballot was denied at the convention.
The proposal included stipulations that the Likud head will choose the position of the party’s candidates on the list, as determined by a party primary, and that the two parties will be represented on the list with the balance in the current government — 27 seats for Likud and 15 for Yisrael Beiteinu.
Before the vote, Netanyahu reassured his party members that Liberman is not next in line for the prime minister’s position.
"I’ve heard all kinds of things in recent days about successors," Netanyahu said. "I have news for you: I plan to lead the State of Israel for many more years. The Likud will continue to lead the State of Israel for many more years."
He reportedly also stressed that the Likud would remain an independent party despite the merged lists.
Israeli general elections are set for Jan. 22.