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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 August 2007, 03:17 GMT 04:17 UK
Netanyahu wins Likud leadership
Binyamin Netanyahu casts his vote at a polling station in Jerusalem, 14 August 2007
Mr Netanyahu's popularity has soared this year
Former Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu has been re-elected as leader of the main right-wing opposition party, Likud.

Mr Netanyahu won 73% of the vote. In his victory speech, he vowed to focus Likud's efforts on bringing Israel a new leadership.

Recent polls show Mr Netanyahu would be a popular choice for prime minister.

Mr Netanyahu was prime minister from 1996 to 1999 and has since held several senior cabinet posts.

Party officials released final election results early on Wednesday - showing Mr Netanyahu had far outstripped his main rival, the hardline religious challenger, Moshe Feiglin, who won 23% of the vote.

Last year Mr Netanyahu led Likud to a crushing defeat in parliamentary elections.

But BBC correspondents say his popularity has soared in opinion polls since last year's inconclusive war in Lebanon.

Israeli general elections are due in 2010 but Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's approval ratings have dropped and some commentators anticipate elections as early as next year.

Mr Olmert heads the centrist Kadima party.

"Tonight the internal contest ended, and as of tomorrow, we will focus our efforts on bringing a new leadership to Israel," Mr Netanyahu told supporters in Tel Aviv on Tuesday.

He had appealed to Likud members to vote as he feared a low turnout might play into the hands of Mr Feiglin.

Around 40% of Likud's 95,000 members cast ballots across the country. Polling stations were even opened in some Israeli holiday resorts.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Benjamin Netanyahu casts his vote



SEE ALSO
Profile: Binyamin Netanyahu
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03 May 07 |  Middle East



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