World Watch

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Boosts Re-Election Chances, Wins Party Primary

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Embattled Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told supporters he would win a March general election after scoring a landslide victory in the leadership primary of his right-wing Likud party, reported news agency AFP.

Israel’s longest-serving premier, who faces a corruption indictment as well as a third general election in 12 months, was expected to beat rival Gideon Saar in the leadership primary.

But the convincing margin of victory — by 72.5 to 27.5 percent — strengthens his position in the party he has dominated for 20 years.

Netanyahu, 70, called it a “huge win” and pledged to emerge victorious in the March 2 general election.

“Now is the time to unite and bring a tremendous victory for the Likud and the right in the election,” Netanyahu told a press conference.

“Most of the people support the right and support me to lead the government.” In what appeared to be a general election campaign speech, Netanyahu did not mention the defeated Saar once.

He thanked US President Donald Trump, a close ally, for his support for Israel and said a Likud victory in the next election would bring more “historic achievements.”

Likud and the centrist Blue and White party were deadlocked after elections in both April and September, with neither able to command a parliamentary majority under Israel’s system of proportional representation.

Last month, Israel’s attorney general indicted the prime minister for fraud, bribery and breach of trust over a series of corruption allegations he denies.

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