Likud Voters Electing Party Chairman


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Members of Israel's Likud Party went to the polls to elect a party chairman and a new Central Committee, more than a year before scheduled national elections.

Prime Minister Netanyahu on Tuesday is expected to be elected party chairman for the fifth time in 18 years.

He is being challenged by party hardliner Moshe Feiglin of the Jewish Leadership faction of the party.

Feiglin is working to garner more than 24 percent of the vote, which is what he polled in the 2007 contest.

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

As of 1 p.m. on Tuesday 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 Tuesday morning, Netanyahu called on Likud members to come out and vote.

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

Election results are expected to be announced early Wednesday morning.