Netanyahu considers party primary to shore up leadership
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks as U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visits Netanyahu's official residence in Jerusalem March 21, 2019. REUTERS/Amir Cohen

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may call for primaries within his Likud to show the party is unified behind him as he struggles to form a coalition after deadlocked elections, a statement said Thursday.

Netanyahu's main rival Benny Gantz and his centrist Blue and White alliance have suggested Likud members abandon their longtime leader in favour of someone else in order to form a unity government.

The prime minister was "considering the possibility of holding Likud primaries," the party said in a statement.

"The aim of the move is to shatter the illusion of a 'Likud rebellion' hoped for by other parties".

There has been little sign so far of Likud members willing to challenge Netanyahu, but one of his main rivals in the party signalled on Thursday he could do so.

"I'm ready," former minister Gideon Saar tweeted, without further explanation.

September 17 elections saw Blue and White finish with the largest number of seats -- 33 compared to Likud's 32.

But neither has a clear path to a majority coalition.

Netanyahu received one more endorsement for prime minister than Gantz from MPs, resulting in President Reuven Rivlin tasking him with forming a government last week.