One of the Likud’s most right-wing Members of the Knesset said he was leaving to set up his own party, in a week of jostling and manoeuvring among Israeli politicians ahead of the March election.
Convicted of sedition in 1997, Moshe Feiglin led the Likud’s far-right faction and has been accused of inciting violence by making regular prayer visits to the site of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest site.
Feiglin’s move comes after a furore surrounding the Likud primary last week. Widespread allegations of vote-rigging followed a Sunday recount, which pushed a female politician off the list. Claims of uncounted ballots were dismissed by the Likud hierarchy, and appeals were turned down.
Elsewhere the leader of Yesh Atid, the Knesset’s second biggest party in the last election, said he was considering adding a representative of the gay community to his list, while former Likudnik Moshe Kahlon named his first female candidate.
Early polls suggest Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud will get 22-24 seats, an improvement on last election. Centrist and left-wing parties are expected to win less than they did in January 2013, leading analysts to predict that the next government will be one of the most right-wing in recent memory.