Netanyahu wins Likud primary followed by 4 rivals

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seen in the Israeli parliament during a plenum session, March 12, 2018. Photo: Miriam Alster/Flash90

By Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Benjamin Netanyahu won the Likud party primary as expected, followed by four lawmakers with whom he has clashed in recent months.

Finishing second through fifth behind the prime minister in Tuesday’s voting by party members are Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein, Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan and Gideon Saar, a former interior minister, according to reports. In his first run for national office, former Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat came in the top 10.

Others appearing in the top 10 are Culture Minister Miri Regev, Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel, Tourism Minister Yariv Levin, Home Front Defense Minister Avi Dichter and Immigration Absorption Minister Yoav Gallant.

Likud now has 30 seats in the Knesset and is expected to have about the same number in the next parliament when elections are held April 9. Thus the candidates who finished below No. 30 in the primary will likely not be seated.

Controversial lawmaker Oren Hazan, as well as current lawmaker and Temple Mount advocate Yehuda Glick, finished below 30.

Some 15 seats of the top 40 are reserved for regional candidates, Netanyahu has three other seats that he can appoint, and there are four other seats reserved for a woman, a new immigrant, a young candidate and a minority candidate that could push some of the winners into lower positions.

The results will be finalized on Wednesday afternoon.

More than 69,700 Likud members voted, or 58 percent of party members.