Netanyahu Dismisses Attempt to Bar Him From Leadership Race

The Likud party’s comptroller has disqualified Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from running in the faction’s Dec. 31 leadership race, a move the Israeli leader’s campaign dismissed.

Comptroller Shai Galili says Netanyahu violated Likud bylaws by campaigning at the party’s Tel Aviv headquarters, the Haaretz newspaper reported today.

Netanyahu’s campaign staff issued a text message calling Galili’s decision “outlandish” and “unfounded.” It said the chairman of Likud’s election committee determined that the comptroller overstepped his authority.

Abraham Diskin, emeritus professor of political science at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, called Galili’s challenge “nonsense.”

“The comptroller is a political figure who belongs to the right wing of the Likud,” Diskin said in a telephone interview. “This is an attempt to use some formal laws to make trouble. I really don’t think anything is going to come out of all this.”

The winner of the race will lead Likud into March 17 parliamentary elections. Netanyahu’s sole contender is Danny Danon, a former deputy defense minister the prime minister fired for saying the government was too restrained in its summer war against Gaza Strip militants.

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