Jerusalem: Israeli Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu faced off against hardliners in his own
party on Thursday in what his opponents said was a bid to neutralise
internal opposition as momentum builds for renewed peace talks
with the Palestinians.
The right-wing Likud party`s ruling central committee
is overdue for its members to face reselection and a more
hawkish makeup could tie Netanyahu`s hands in any future
US-brokered peace negotiations.
Netanyahu has convened the 2,500-strong committee to
vote on his request to amend the party constitution so that
the national convention, where reselection takes place, is
delayed until the end of next year.
Although the party leader and candidates for
parliament are chosen by the full party membership in
primaries, the central committee has a key role in approving
the party platform. Its backing, or lack of it, can make or
break political careers.
Commentators said Netanyahu would face an uphill
battle to gain the two-thirds majority necessary to win
Thursday`s constitutional vote, and the prime minister sought
to lower expectations ahead of the ballot.
"Achieving such a majority is an almost impossible
mission. It will be very, very difficult," he told reporters.
Netanyahu says he wants the delay because he is too
busy right now dealing with attempts to revive the talks with
the Palestinians, lobbying for tougher international sanctions
against Iran and keeping a close eye on the buildup of rockets
and missiles by Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza.
"The last thing we need to do now is get into internal
politicking within the Likud," he told a party rally on
Tuesday. "We must not take our minds off the great challenges
standing before the State of Israel."