Israel’s Netanyahu survives ruling party leadership primary

Israel's Netanyahu survives ruling party leadership primary
Israel's attorney general has indicted Netanyahu for fraud, bribery and breach of trust, but he can only be removed from office after all appeals are exhausted. Source: AFP
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Daily US Times, Tel Aviv: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has claimed ‘huge win’ in a primary leadership vote in his right-wing Likud party on Friday, ensuring he will lead it into March elections.

Although Netanyahu won the vote comfortably, a narrow margin with Gideon Saar could have weakened his influence over the party he has dominated for 20 years.

Gideon Saar accepted his defeat and said he would now back Mr Netanyahu in March’s general election.

Party figures show about 49% of Likud’s 116,000 eligible members voted in the election.

Netanyahu is facing a mountain of difficulties now. So the internal party vote turned out to be a crucial test for him.

Saar, a former minister, announced his leadership challenge last month after Israel’s attorney general indicted Netanyahu for fraud, bribery and breach of trust.

Mr Netanyahu faced a challenge from Gideon Saar (right), a former government minister. Source: AFP

Netanyahu has always denied the allegations.

The Israeli Prime Minister faces trial on bribery and corruption charges, as well as a third national election within a year.

‘A huge win! Thank you to Likud members for their trust, support and love,’ Netanyahu tweeted an hour after polls closed.

‘With God’s and your help, I will lead Likud to a big victory in the upcoming elections, and we will continue to lead the State of Israel to unprecedented achievements,’ he added.

The 70-year-old Israeli PM is in battle with its won Judiciary. He claimed the judiciary is plotting against him after his appointed attorney general indicted him of corruption charges.