Netanyahu wins Likud race

Netanyahu won 44% of the votes, Silvan Shalom finished with 33%, Moshe Feiglin 12%, and Yisrael Katz 9%.

December 19, 2005 07:01
netanyahu face 88

netanyahu 88. (photo credit: )

Binyamin Netanyahu was elected on Monday as the new chairman of the Likud. The final results of the primaries were announced early Tuesday morning: after 98 percent of the votes had been counted, Netanyahu won 44% of the votes, Silvan Shalom 33%, Moshe Feiglin 12%, and Yisrael Katz 9%. However, only 44% of eligible Likud voters chose to exercise their voting rights. Late Monday night, amidst a throng of frenzied supporters, and after the outcome of the race was clear, the newly elected Likud Chairman arrived at Likud headquarters in Tel Aviv to give his victory speech. Speaking from the podium while surrounded by Likud MKs, and with his wife Sarah at his side, Netanyahu announced "Tonight the Likud begins its way back to the leadership of the country." "Whoever thought that the Likud was dead wasn't in the streets today. What I saw was a living, real, thriving movement." Netanyahu emphasized his appreciation of Uzi Landau for "sacrificing his personal political interests for the good of the country," while calling on Silvan Shalom to move the Likud ahead together with him. Katz, who preferred to remain silent until the final results were announced, said that the Likud must unite behind the elected leader, Israel Radio reported. Shalom didn't wait quite as long, phoning former prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu late Monday and congratulating him on his victory. Shalom vowed that despite his defeat, he would remain in the Likud. Shalom was greeted by his supporters as he arrived at his campaign headquarters just before 1 a.m. "I spoke to Binyamin Netanyahu a short while ago and congratulated him on his victory. I told him that I am at his disposal and at the disposal of the Likud," he said. According to Shalom, "[Netanyahu and myself] will meet in the coming days and decide on our common goal. That means also a strong social agenda alongside a diplomatic one. We will have to choose a common platform and although Netanyahu would have the final say, he agreed with me that his agenda would have to combine my own." A poll commissioned by Israel Radio revealed on Monday evening, minutes after voting stations shut their gates, that Netanyahu defeated Shalom by a 15% margin. According to the poll, Netanyahu received 47% of the vote. Shalom, his main competitor, won the support of only 32% of voters. Feiglin, the poll found, received 15% of the vote while Minister Yisrael Katz got 6%. The poll, conducted by Professor Yitzhak Katz from Ma'agar Mohot among 648 respondents, was not an exit poll but rather a telephone survey of Likud voters who declared that they had voted. Professor Katz was the only expert who predicted the victory of Amir Peretz over Shimon Peres in the Labor primary race. The first major result came out of Jerusalem, where Netanyahu won 1,718 votes compared with Feiglin's 844 votes and Shalom's 658. Other actual results: Haifa: Netanyahu 711, Shalom 423 Holon: Netanyahu 673, Shalom 342 Tiberius: Netanyahu 371, Shalom 234 Beersheba: Shalom 717, Netanyahu 493, Katz 305 Eilat: Shalom 312, Netanyahu 156 Ashdod: Shalom 346, Netanyahu 324 Netanya: Netanyahu 830, Shalom 547, Katz 132 Hadera: Netanyahu 447, Shalom 300 Beit Shemesh: Netanyahu 625, Feiglin 235 Ofakim: Shalom 190, Netanyahu 158 Ra'anana: Netanyahu 247, Shalom 192 Monday was a sunny winter day throughout the country, but Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's stroke the day before pushed the Likud race out of the top headlines. There were hopes in the Likud that Sharon's hospitalization could awaken party members and persuade them that the vote had serious ramifications, but the low turnout proved such hopes unfounded. Netanyahu and Shalom spent the day touring polling stations and encouraging people to come out to vote. Netanyahu started the day with a short prayer at the Western Wall before continuing to Ma'aleh Adumim, Beit Shemesh, Petah Tikva, Rosh Ha'ayin, Netanya, Ra'anana, Tel Aviv and Rishon Lezion. Shalom began by serving as a godfather at a circumcision ceremony in Tel Aviv and then went to Ramat Gan, Jerusalem, Ramle, Rehovot, Rishon Lezion, Ashdod, Askelon, Holon, Tel Aviv and Netanya. Asked about Sharon's stroke, Netanyahu told reporters at the Wall plaza that he had prayed for "the health of Sharon, the Jewish people and the State of Israel," which he said was not well. Netanyahu was heckled by a woman at the plaza who shouted, "You have ruined the lives of the Jews!" A polling station at the Jerusalem International Convention Center served as the backdrop for a showdown between Shalom and Netanyahu, who came one after another and tried to outdo each other with their entourages, rallying cries to supporters and loud jingles. Shalom's jingle "only Silvan can win" competed with a Netanyahu-themed rap song. The center was decked in 50-foot-high posters of Netanyahu and Shalom bearing the slogans "Jerusalem united with Netanyahu" and "Silvan Shalom will return the nation to Likud." Shalom brought his wife Judy Nir-Mozes Shalom on his campaign appearances in Ramat Gan and Jerusalem. Netanyahu's wife Sarah made a rare public appearance when she came with her husband to vote at the convention center. Netanyahu waited in his car for Shalom to leave the center. Netanyahu promised his supporters at the center that "we will cooperate starting tonight to return the Likud to its path." Shalom countered with a promise "to go from town to town, mayor to mayor and activist to activist to make sure the Likud will be united." Both Netanyahu and Shalom were heckled at the center by evacuees from Gush Katif, who complained that they lost their homes due to Netanyahu and Shalom. The evacuees called Shalom a traitor and said they would never forgive him for voting for the Gaza Strip withdrawal. One man, who was apparently unaffiliated with any candidate, handed out toilet paper to Likud members at the center, telling them to put it in the ballot box "to symbolize the way politicians are treating us."

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