Israel’s Netanyahu wins ruling party leadership vote
27 Dec 2019
Benjamin Netanyahu gestures at an election campaign. File photo
Embattled Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared a “huge” victory on Friday, after winning a leadership primary that ensures he will lead his right-wing Likud party into a March general election.
Israel’s longest-serving premier, who faces a corruption indictment and a third general election in 12 months, was expected to beat rival Gideon Saar but the convincing margin of victory strengthened his position in the party he has dominated for 20 years.
With all votes counted, the Likud announced that Netanyahu had secured 72.5 per cent, with Saar winning 27.5 per cent.
The left-wing Haaretz newspaper described it as a battle between the “rational expediency” of Saar supporters and the “tribal loyalty” of the Netanyahu camp.
It noted the historic reluctance of Likud members to depose a sitting leader.