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Netanyahu wins Likud primary elections and thanks “the trust, support and …

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Netanyahu wins Likud primary elections and thanks “the trust, support and ...

Ronen Zvulun / EPA

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared himself a winner on Thursday in the primary elections for the Likud party leadership, in a Twitter post. “A giant victory,” he wrote, about an hour after the polls closed, thanking “the trust, the support and the love”.

The victory in the primaries will allow Netanyahu to continue leading the conservative nationalist party Likud (right) and top the party's list in the upcoming Israeli general elections scheduled for March 2020, Lusa reported.

Likud's leadership was disputed by Netanyahu and Gideon Saar, a former deputy and former minister of education and home affairs in Netanyahu governments, regarded as a "rising star" of Israeli politics.

Netanyahu is the longest-serving Israeli leader but is weakened by the attorney general's decision that has indicted him on three corruption cases and the failure to form a new coalition executive this year.

The prime minister was charged in November by Prosecutor General Avichai Mandelblit for bribery, fraud and abuse of trust in three corruption cases. Israeli law states that any indicted minister may lose office except the prime minister.

While Netanyahu's various opponents demanded his resignation because of serious suspicions of corruption, Saar argued for the party to have a new leader because the incumbent prime minister failed to form a stable coalition government.

On December 12, Netanyahu's lawyers announced that the prime minister was leaving the briefcase he accumulates in the executive – Health, Agriculture and Diaspora – but remaining as head of government. The announcement came a day after Israeli MPs approved the dissolution of parliament and called new legislations for March 2, the third in a year.

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