The Likud Central Committee voted on Monday evening, in favor of the Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, by voting against holding early primaries for the Likud.

Tzahi Hanegbi, Likud Central Committee Chairman, announced the results on Tuesday shortly after midnight, and declared that 1329 members supported early vote, while 1433 apposed it.

91% was the voting turnout; 2762 out of 3050 members of the Likud Central Committee took part in the vote.

Likud ministers Limor Livnat, Danny Naveh and Yisrael Katz made a last- minute declaration of support for early primaries, but the results came in opposite to their statement.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon expressed happiness with the final results.

Members of Knesset Benjamin Netanyahu and Uzi Landau were behind the proposal to move up the date of early party leadership elections. Analysts saw this move as an attempt to defeat Sharon, the opponent of Netanyahu for the Likud chairmanship.

Netanyahu thanked Likud committee members who supported the vote, and added that he has no doubt that at the second battle, referring to the February primaries which will be held in accordance to their original date. 

“We will meet in chapter two”, he said.

Likud pulls closed at 10 P.M, 91% voter turnout

Saed Bannoura – IMEMC & Agencies

Early primaries of the Likud Central Committee closed it polls at 10 P.M on Monday at night, with a voter turnout of 91%, and Israeli source reported.

A survey conducted by Maagar Mochot radio in Israel published results showing a slight victory for Sharon.

According to the results of the survey, 51% of Likud Central committee members are apposed to early primaries, and 49% support it; the margin of error is 5%.

Several Israeli politicians refused to comment on the survey since the race between Sharon and Netanyahu is so tight.

The Israeli online daily Haaretz reported that the final results of the vote are expected to be announced after midnight, the Likud already started counting the votes around 23hours.

The polls started on Monday at 10 A.M at the Tel Aviv Exhibition Grounds, which is the place Likud Central committee members met on Sunday at night.

Israeli sources reported that if the Central Committee votes in favor of advancing the date of Likud primaries, Israeli Prime Minister, Sharon, would leave the Likud party and form another one.

Sharon and Netanyahu-Landau camps exchanged accusations of election Fraud.

According to Haaretz, members of the Netanyahu-Landau camp filed a complaint against two of Sharon’s supporters, and accused them of voting twice.

Meanwhile, former judge Zvi Cohen, chairman of the Likud Voting Committee, expelled two members of the central committee after pretending to be monitoring the elections. 

The two members, identified as Yitzhak Vanunu and Ya’akov Fadida were caught after an advisor of Landau noticed that they are not on the monitors list, Haaretz reported.


Also, Erez Halfon, Sharon’s advisor, said that five forged ballots were discovered in a voting station. Halfon stated that members of Sharon’s camp filed a complaint after allegedly finding out that a person, who was not identified, voted in the name of a committee member who apposed the early primaries. 

After the voting committee opened the ballot box, it found out that there are 135 ballots in the box, while 130 voters were listed.

Earlier on Monday, Sharon urged Likud committee members to vote against advancing the primaries date.

Sharon was supposed to deliver a speech to the Central Committee on Sunday at night, but he walked out of the meeting when the microphone stooped working,

The meeting ended directly after Sharon left, the meeting broke up while Sharon supporters and opponents accused each other of sabotaging the system.