Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared victory on Thursday in a primary election to decide who will lead the ruling Likud party in Israel. The Associated Press reports that official results announced early Friday show Benjamin Netanyahu, who has been prime minister of Israel since 2009, captured 72 percent of the vote while challenger and former minister Gideon Saar received 28 percent.
The Times of Israel reports that Netanyahu was largely expected to win Thursday's runoff, as Netanyahu has led the Likud party since 1993. Just under half of the party's 116,048 dues-paying members cast their ballots on Thursday at over 100 voting stations in Israel.
"A huge win!" Netanyahu declared on Twitter. The prime minister vowed to lead the Likud party "to a big victory in the upcoming elections and continue to lead the State of Israel to unprecedented achievements."
For the first time in Israel's history, Prime Minister Netanyahu was unable to form a governing coalition after two inconclusive elections in 2019. Also a first, the prime minister was indicted on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust in a corruption case that accuses the prime minister of handing out gifts and political favors in exchange for favorable news coverage.
Despite the challenges, Netanyahu has retained the confidence of members in the Likud party and will now be tasked with leading the party into the national election on March 2nd. Gideon Saar, who lost to Netanyahu in Thursday's primary election, congratulated the prime minister on his landslide victory on Twitter and stated that he now stands behind Netanyahu and will campaign for the Likud party in the upcoming elections.