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Netanyahu elected as Likud party chairman
www.chinaview.cn 2005-12-20 09:13:52

Israeli Knesset member Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday evening swept to a comfortable victory in the Likud chairmanship race.
Israeli parliament member and former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) and his wife Sara Netanyahu (R) speak to reporters after casting their vote at a polling station in Jerusalem December 19, 2005. (Photo: Xinhua/REUTERS)
    JERUSALEM, Dec. 20 (Xinhuanet) -- Israeli Knesset member Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday evening swept to a comfortable victory in the Likud chairmanship race.

    "I came tonight to tell you Likud has started its road back to leading the country," Netanyhau said in a speech at the Likud headquarters in Tel Aviv after he was announced as the party's newly-elected chairman.

    "During the primaries campaign I have seen a live, vibrant, active Likud...a Likud that only grows in strength."

    Netanyahu added that the Likud will go ahead together with Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, his main rival in the elections.

    Shalom phoned Netanyahu late Monday and congratulated him on his victory, vowing that despite his defeat, he would remain in the Likud.

    According to Israeli TV Channel 1 poll, Netanyahu won 47 percent of the vote in the party primaries and Shalom came in second with 32 percent.

    Meanwhile, far-right candidate Moshe Feiglin won 15 percent of the vote, while Agriculture Minister Yisrael Katz trailed in the fourth place with 6 percent of the vote.

    Voter turnout was particularly low, with less than 40 percent of the the 128,000 party members casting their ballots.

    Netanyahu, who quit Sharon's Cabinet in protest just before Israel's summer pullout from Gaza and part of the West Bank, will head the Likud Party in a March parliamentary election against Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, whose new centrist party, Kadima, enjoys an apparent lead. Enditem

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