Netanyahu easily wins leadership vote

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, center, still commands a strong and emotional following within his party.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, center, still commands a strong and emotional following within his party.Credit…Pool photo by Gali Tibbon

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday survived a challenge for the leadership of his conservative Likud party. Early results showed Netanyahu with 72.5 percent of votes in the party election. Long-time Likud rival Gideon Saar got 27.5 percent.

Netanyahu declared victory even before the official results were released.

“A giant victory!” he tweeted early Friday. “With the help of God and with your help, I will lead Likud to a great victory in the upcoming elections and we will continue to lead the country to unprecedented achievements.”

Netanyahu beat challenger Saar, an experienced but less popular politician, despite pending corruption charges and the fact that he failed to win enough seats to form a government in two elections since April.

Saar said Netanyahu should be replaced because he wouldn’t be able to prevail after March elections, either.

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