Israel’s Likud lawmakers vow to back Netanyahu

Parliament members with Israel’s Likud ruling party said Sunday they will only support Benjamin Netanyahu as their candidate for prime minister, “regardless of the election results.”

The Likud, Netanyahu’s party, released a statement saying all of its lawmakers and candidates for the Knesset, or parliament, in the upcoming September elections have signed “a unity petition.”

The statement affirms that Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu “is the only Likud candidate for prime minister – and there will be no other candidate.”

In the afternoon, Netanyahu tweeted: “Thanks to Likud members for their unequivocal support of me. Likud is more united than ever.”

The move was initiated a day after Avigdor Lieberman, leader of the far-right party of Israel Our Home and Israel’s former defense minister, called to form a unity government after the elections, composed of the two main parties: the Likud and the centrist Blue and White party.

Lieberman said that if Netanyahu will refuse to the move, he will ask the Likud to appoint another candidate for prime minister to lead a wide unity government.

Israel will hold general elections on Sept. 17, less than six months after the previous round of elections was held.

Netanyahu, who won the elections with a narrow victory, called for the snap elections after he failed to form a governing coalition.