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Netanyahu easily wins Likud party primary to remain prime minister candidate

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Benjamin Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has won his party’s leadership primary with 71.5 per cent of the vote, according to an exit poll.

A tweet by Direct Polls, an Israeli firm, showed challenger Gideon Saar with 28.5 per cent. The poll had a margin of error of 3.2 per cent, and turnout for the primary stood at around 50 per cent.

Saar, a popular Likud stalwart and former interior minister, had aimed to dethrone Netanyahu after the prime minister was twice unable to form a government following consecutive rounds of elections this year. Netanyahu’s rival, Benny Gantz of the centrist Blue and White Party, was also unable to assemble a governing coalition.

Netanyahu is also under indictment for fraud, bribery and breach of trust. He has led Likud for 20 years.

Israel will hold its third round of elections in less than a year on March 2.

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