Netanyahu Wins Likud Party Primary: Ministers Erdan, Edelstein Get Top Spots

All of the ballots counted in the primary election; MK Moshe Feiglin voted out.

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu votes in the Likud primary, December 31, 2014.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu votes in the Likud primary, December 31, 2014. Credit: Emil Salman
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu won the Likud primary election on Wednesday, and will lead the party in the next general election. In a televised address to his party, Netanyahu thanked those who voted and declared that the very essence of the primary election proves that "democracy trumps dictatorship."

Roughly 55 percent of the Likud's 96,651 registered voters cast three ballots on Wednesday: one for party leader, one for the party's Knesset slate, and one for giving Netanyahu the option of reserving two slots on the list for candidates of his choosing, subject to the approval of party secretary.

The Likud primary didn't garner much public interest – it was mostly characterized by political ploys aimed at ousting certain MKs and ministers from the list.

With all of the ballots counted, the results indicate that the top of the Likud's Knesset list will look as follows:

1. Benjamin Netanyahu
2. Gilad Erdan
3. Yuli Edelstein
4. Yisrael Katz
5. Miri Regev
6. Silvan Shalom
7. Moshe Ya'alon
8. Ze'ev Elkin
9. Tzachi Hanegbi
10. Danny Danon
11. Slot reserved for candidate of Netanyahu's choosing
12. Yuval Steinitz
13. Gila Gamliel
14. Yariv Levin
15. Ophir Akunis
16. David Bitan (slot reserved for candidate from the Shfela region)
17. Haim Katz
18. Jackie Levy (slot reserved for candidate from the Galilee region)
19. Yoav Kish (slot reserved for candidate from the greater Tel Aviv area)
20. Avi Dichter
21. Dudu Amsalem (slot reserved for candidate from Jerusalem area)
22. Miki Zohar (slot reserved for candidate from Negev region)
23. Slot reserved for candidate of Netanyahu's choosing
24. Ayoob Kara
25. Nava Boker
26. Tzipi Hotovely
27. Nagosa Avraham (slot reserved for an immigrant)

Surprisingly, one of the party's "kingmakers," MK Haim Katz, was relegated to a much lower spot than expected. The results also show that MK Moshe Feiglin did not make the list.

Rumors have surfaced that many party officials had been trying to push Feiglin down to a lower spot on the slate; apparently, many MKs and ministers had banded together against Feiglin in response to the latter's behavior while Netanyahu was trying to bring forward the primary election date. "Feiglin angered a lot of people when he decided to fight Netanyahu on almost every issue regarding the election, and stalled lots of procedures through the party's legal council," a party source said.

The party's full Knesset slate was only published in full late Thursday due to the decision to count votes by hand rather than by computer. The first 3,00 polling stations counted indicted 85 percent of the votes went to Netanyahu over Danny Danon. Close to midnight on Wednesday, Danon withdrew from the primary. Netanyahu received 77 percent of the primary vote in 2013, and 74 percent in 2007.

In his message to the party on Thursday morning, Netanyahu congratulated "all members of the Likud" for choosing what he said was a "balanced, responsible and highly-capable" party slate for the upcoming elections.

Basing himself on early returns from the primaries, Netanyahu said that the slate represented the entire country and was appropriate for a "governing party" that aimed to continue running the State of Israel.

The Likud, he added, showed the citizens of Israel that "democracy beats dictatorship," referring to the fact that the Likud held open primaries while most of the other parties are choosing their lists by committee.

The premier did not mention any of the candidates by name, though he did name a number of his close advisers while thanking all those who had been responsible for the success of the primaries.

He said that the list represented "the true spirit of the Likud," and would "assist me in continuing to govern the country."

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