Likud Party voters expected to return Bibi to chairmanship


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected be re-elected chairman in voting by Israel’s Likud Party.

Party members went to the polls Tuesday to elect a chairman and a new Central Committee more than a year before scheduled national elections.

Netanyahu, who with a victory would be the party chairman for the fifth time in 18 years, is being challenged by hard-liner Moshe Feiglin of the Jewish Leadership faction of the party. Feiglin garnered more than 24 percent of the vote in the 2007 contest.

Several polling stations in the West Bank, where Feiglin is a resident and was expected to poll well, sent voters home after not receiving the necessary materials, according to complaints from the Feiglin camp.  

Up to 130,000 party members are eligible to vote at 150 polling places throughout the country. Polls close at 10 p.m.

By early afternoon, some 4,500 Likud members, or 3 percent of those eligible to vote, had cast ballots.

Party leaders worried that bad weather would hamper the turnout, which would work in Feiglin’s favor. After casting his ballot in the morning, Netanyahu called on Likud members to vote. 

Election results are expected to be announced early Wednesday morning.

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