Netanyahu wins party vote in boost ahead of Israeli election

FILE PHOTO: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu waves after addressing members of his right-wing party bloc at a conference in Tel Aviv, Israel November 17, 2019. REUTERS/Nir Elias/File Photo

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu easily won a vote to keep the Likud party helm, the party said on Friday, in a boost ahead of what is likely to be a hard-fought general election in March. 

A Likud tally gave Netanyahu 72.5% of votes in Thursday’s party ballot, against 27.5% for challenger Gideon Saar, who conceded defeat, tweeting that he would now back the incumbent “for the sake of a Likud victory in the (general) election”.

The results awaited official confirmation by Israel’s Elections Committee.

The challenge by Saar, a former education and interior minister, had added to pressures that have mounted this year on the four-term premier, who is under indictment and fighting for political survival.