Israel’s Embattled Netanyahu Declares Victory in Primary

YERUSHALAYIM (AP) -
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Prime Minister’s office in Yerushalayim in Dec., 2019. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov, Pool)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared victory early Friday in his primary election battle for leadership of the Likud party, as TV stations predicted a landslide win for the longtime Israeli leader.

The apparent victory means that Netanyahu will lead Likud into March elections, the country’s third election in less than a year. He is also likely to seize on the victory as he battles criminal corruption charges.

“A giant victory,” Netanyahu tweeted, just over an hour after polls closed.

“Thanks to the members of Likud for the trust, support and love,” he said. “G-d willing, I will lead Likud to a big victory in the coming elections.”

Partial results reported by Israeli TV stations showed Netanyahu capturing between 70% and 80% of the vote, trouncing his challenger, lawmaker Gideon Saar.

Official results were expected later Friday.