It was indeed an atmosphere of celebration for the Likud party as Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu secured a landslide victory in the race for leadership within the governing party.
Official results announced early on Friday showed he had won 72% of votes, compared with 28% for his rival Gideon Saar.
Mr Netanyahu earlier wrote: “A giant victory! Thanks to the members of Likud for the trust, support and love.
“God willing, I will lead Likud to a big victory in the coming elections and will continue to lead the state of Israel to unprecedented achievements.”
The vote comes as Mr Netanyahu battles corruption charges.
The 70-year-old prime minister who has been in power for 10 years, was accused of bribery, fraud and breach of trust.
Prosecutors allege he traded legislative or regulatory favours for gifts or favourable media coverage, allegations he denies.
But despite his indictment, Mr Netanyahu remains popular among members of Likud, which has had only four leaders since it began in the 1970s.
The winner of Thursday’s poll will lead the party into the national election in March, Israel’s third in less than a year.
Earlier, his challenger Mr Saar had been confident, telling reporters: “We can win today, to set forth on a new path that will allow us to form a strong and stable government, that will allow us to unite the people of Israel, which is probably the most important thing right now.”
Just under half of the 116,000 eligible voters cast ballots and official results are expected later on Friday.
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