Haaretz newspaper has reported that many within Israel's Likud Party fear that Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman seeks to gain control of the party from the inside by changing its rules and procedures. One of the proposed changes would allow new affiliates and members of the party to vote in primary and interior elections just six months after joining the party; at present they must wait for 16 months before having the right to vote.
Lieberman's supporters within the party, it is claimed, are attempting to implement this change quickly in order for the minister to dissolve his Yisrael Beiteinu Party and merge it with Likud. This would allow him to gain potentially thousands of new votes in the party's internal elections.
This development has come at the moment that Netanyahu was waiting for, with Lieberman's return to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs after being acquitted of corruption charges. Many want to know the limits of Lieberman's goals and whether or not he seeks to end his partnership with Likud or merge entirely. It is important to note that many of Netanyahu's supporters are in favour of ending ties with Lieberman's party after the party declined in the polls, gaining just six seats in the general election.
Yossi Verter, Haaretz's political party analyst, noted that Lieberman no longer wants to play the Russian card and is now choosing to identify himself as an Israeli in every sense of the word. In fact, he is now listed as one of those Israelis within his party who are opposed to immigrants of Russian origin.