(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been voted in as head of the ruling Likud party, overcoming his first hurdle toward winning a fourth term in office in the upcoming March general elections, results of a party primary issued Thursday showed.
"Likud chose an amazing list,” Netanyahu said in a press conference following his victory. "Contrary to early forecasts, the members of Likud chose a balanced, responsible list that will help me continue governing the country responsibly, with security and success. That is the true spirit of the Likud Party," Netanyahu said.
The votes, cast by approximately 55 percent of the 96,000 registered Likud members at 115 polling stations around the country, were counted by hand.
MK Danny Danon, who vied for the leadership of the party against Netanyahu but lost, conceded defeat about an hour after the vote ended. Ultimately, Netanyahu won 75 percent of the vote while Danon garnered only 19 percent.
According to early results, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and Interior Minister Gilad Erdan were neck and neck, more or less equally likely to secure the top spot on the Knesset list after the prime minister, followed by Gilad Erdan, Yisrael Katz, Miri Regev and Silvan Shalom.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, Coalition Chairman Zeev Elkin, Yariv Levin and Tzahi Hanegbi rounded out the likely top ten.