Big winner - Netanyahu
Photo: Ido Erez
Netanyahu big winner of Likud primaries
Prime Minister Netanyahu defeats rival Feiglin, will lead Israel's ruling party in next elections; Bibi: Real Likud won today, we'll continue to show responsible leadership

Bibi wins Likud vote: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu scored a convincing victory in the Likud primaries held Tuesday, winning more than 70% of the vote according to initial results received after midnight.


Speaking shortly after polling stations closed, Netanyahu said: "The real Likud won today. We proved that our strength lies in our unity. We will continue to show responsible leadership and take the lead in education, the economy, and security for the sake of all citizens in the State of Israel."


Later, the prime minister added: "We are facing great challenges that no other country faces, and I believe that together we shall overcome them, through the Likud."


Meanwhile, members of the campaign headquarters of Netanyahu's rival, Moshe Feiglin, received the results with excitement, and especially the voting figures beyond the Green Line, where the hardline candidate won convincingly in several communities.


"We haven't forgotten that officials at the Netanyahu headquarters said that should Feiglin win more than 20% of the vote, that would constitute a failure (for Netanyahu,)" one Feiglin associate said.


Later, Feiglin himself expressed his satisfaction with the results, saying: "According to the results we are getting, we did something that was almost impossible…more than one quarter of registered Likud members voted for me and for a Jewish state."


Earlier, officials at Feiglin's office complained of irregularities during the vote. The officials instructed activists nationwide to physically resist attempts to count the votes without the presence of monitors on behalf of Feiglin.


The Likud primaries were scheduled to end by 10 pm Tuesday, but low voter turnout prompted party officials to extend the vote until 11 pm; at four polling stations, voting was extended further, until midnight. Overall, 154 polling stations operated across the nation during the day.


Moran Azoulay contributed to the report


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