Netanyahu Hails Likud Primary Victory Over Party Challenger Sa’ar

Sa'ar: We stand behind PM ■ Premier gets 72.5% of vote

Chaim Levinson
Chaim Levinson
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
A Likud party banner
A Likud party bannerCredit: AMMAR AWAD/Reuters
Chaim Levinson
Chaim Levinson

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed an "enormous victory" on Thursday night after the Likud party concluded its first leadership primary in five years, beating his rival Gideon Sa'ar with 72.5 percent of the vote to the latter's 27.5 percent.

Netanyahu said Friday that his wining the Likud primary election shows the "profound faith" his supports have in his way.

The Mossad, China's Trojan horse, censorship and state secrets on our podcast. Listen

"It's a tremendous victory – we beat those who spreading fake news while trying to dwarf our achievement as well as the weather, which didn't deter Likud voters," Netanyahu said during his victory speech at Likud headquarters, without mentioning Sa'ar.

Netanyahu vowed to "lead Likud to a large victory in the coming election and we will continue to lead Israel to unprecedented accomplishments" in a Twitter post after polls closed.

In addition, Netanyahu said he would work to bring about a U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan valley, the Dead Sea and all Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

Sa'ar congratulated Netanyahu, saying he would back him in the general election in March. "Running [against Netanyahu] was extremely important to Likud and its democratic nature. I completely stand behind my decision to run in the primary," he said, adding that those who are unwilling to take a chance for what they believe in, will never win."

According to Likud, 49 percent of the party's 116,048 members cast their ballot on Thursday.

Earlier, Netanyahu took to Twitter to accuse the Israeli left and the media of trying to prevent his supporters from coming out and voting for him. "My brothers and sisters, Likud members, immense forces – not just the weather – are trying to influence you to stay at home. Come vote for me to lead the party," he wrote.

Meanwhile, rival Sa'ar was photographed casting his vote at a Tel Aviv ballot. He made a statement in which he called on Likud members "to set out on a new path that will enable us to set up a strong and stable government and united the people of Israel. I ask for your voice, I ask for your faith, together we can make a change," he said.

Sa’ar’s headquarters issued a statement earlier Thursday which said that some voting stations were opened before time and observers were prevented from entering.

Earlier, his headquarters issued a statement that the Likud's election panel intentionally tried to make it harder for Sa'ar supporters, for example by not putting a polling station in south Tel Aviv, forcing voters to travel to polling stations uptown.

Netanyahu's main challenger in the general election and Kahol Lavan Chairman Benny Gantz said: "The party of [Ze'ev] Jabotinsky and [Menachem] Begin, who honored the supremacy of the rule of law, has chosen a leader charged with three pending corruption cases, who seeks to topple the rule of law and grant himself immunity from prosecution."

Gantz added that the results of the Likud primary "obligate us to choose unity, statesmanship and internal reconciliation."

On Wednesday evening, at a campaign rally held in the southern city of Ashkelon, Netanyahu and his wife Sara were rushed off stage to a nearby shelter when a rocket was launched from the Gaza Strip. The rocket was intercepted by an Iron Dome battery. He later returned to complete his speech. The Israeli military said it attacked targets in Gaza later that night in response.

Click the alert icon to follow topics:



Automatic approval of subscriber comments.

Subscribe today and save 40%

Already signed up? LOG IN


Palestinians search through the rubble of a building in which Khaled Mansour, a top Islamic Jihad militant was killed following an Israeli airstrike in Rafah, southern Gaza strip, on Sunday.

Gazans Are Tired of Pointless Wars and Destruction, and Hamas Listens to Them

Trump and Netanyahu at the White House in Washington, in 2020.

Three Years Later, Israelis Find Out What Trump Really Thought of Netanyahu

German soldier.

The Rival Jewish Spies Who Almost Changed the Course of WWII

Rio. Not all Jewish men wear black hats.

What Does a Jew Look Like? The Brits Don't Seem to Know

Galon. “I’m coming to accomplish a specific mission: to increase Meretz’s strength and ensure that the party will not tread water around the electoral threshold. If Meretz will be large enough, it will be the basis for a Jewish-Arab partnership.” Daniel Tchetchik

'I Have No Illusions About Ending the Occupation, but the Government Needs the Left'

Soldiers using warfare devices made by the Israeli defense electronics company Elbit Systems.

Russia-Ukraine War Catapults Israeli Arms Industry to Global Stage