JERUSALEM, Oct. 29 (Xinhua) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is preparing for the convention of his Likud party's central committee Monday evening, which will vote on the recent merger with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu party.
On Sunday, Netanyahu met with Likud mayors and local chapters to encourage them to support the united list, which he termed as an "early coalition" that will not change either party's core ideology.
"The merger will leave Likud as an independent party which will continue protecting Israel's security," Netanyahu said in a recorded message sent to Likud committee members.
He added that the united party would "powerfully lead Israel."
However, according to Sunday polls, the united list is not likely to succeed in increasing the merger's political clout.
On Thursday, Netanyahu and Lieberman announced they will be running in a joint list for the Jan. 22 elections.
Lieberman's party is a largely secular faction to the political right of Likud. The two leaders have often publicly clashed over policies, with Lieberman sometimes advancing his platform before foreign leaders, like the dismay of his erstwhile coalition partners.
A Channel 2 TV news poll gave the list 42 out of the 120 seats in the next Knesset (parliament), which is the current amount of seats both parties have together. A Channel 10 news poll gave the united list 35 seats, while the Ma'ariv newspaper gave the list 43 mandates.
Netanyahu said at Sunday's session with Likud ministers that Lieberman can choose among the defense, finance and foreign ministry portfolios, but added it is most likely that he will stay as the foreign minister.
One minister told the Ynet news website that the atmosphere in the meeting was tense and "no one agreed to talk, as if there was no agreement with Lieberman."
More opposition came from Likud lawmaker Michael Eitan, who demanded Sunday to see details of the deal.
Eitan is gathering 400 signatures for a proposal to hold a secret vote, which might benefit the merger's opponents.
Also, during a memorial for Israel's slain former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin on Sunday, Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar, the No. 2 on the Likud list, slammed Lieberman's party.
"Unfortunately, there is a growing number of parties who do not hold democratic elections to choose its Knesset representatives," he said, referring to Lieberman personally picking nominees.
Both Netanyahu and Lieberman have denied speculation that they will rotate holding the premiership if the two winning the elections.