People look at a poster of Israel Prime Minister and governing Likud party leader Benjamin Netanyahu at a voting center in the northern Israeli city of Hadera, Thursday, Dec. 26, 2019. 

Source:  Bradford Betz | Fox News

On Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed an overwhelming victory in a primary election for leadership of the ruling Likud party ahead of the general election next year.

Official results announced early Friday showed Netanyahu with 72 percent of the votes, compared to 28 percent for challenger Gideon Saar.

The win gives the embattled leader a boost ahead of Israel’s third election in less than a year and could give him another opportunity to form a government after falling short in two previous attempts in 2019.

The apparent victory also keeps alive Netanyahu’s hopes of winning immunity from prosecution after being indicted last month on a series of corruption charges.

“A giant victory,” Netanyahu tweeted just over an hour after polls closed.

“Thanks to the members of Likud for the trust, support and love,” he added. “God willing, I will lead Likud to a big victory in the coming elections.”

But despite Likud’s strong position, the general election is widely expected to leave the party and its main rival, the Blue and White, unable to form a government on their own, and Netanyahu’s lingering legal troubles could again hamper efforts to form a unity government.

Netanyahu, who has led the country for the past decade, has cultivated an image as a veteran statesman with close ties to President Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin and other world leaders.

His refusal over the last decade to make any concessions to the Palestinians was rewarded after Trump took office. His hardline approach to Iran has also proved popular.

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