Tags: Netenyahu | Concedes | Likud | Primary

Netenyahu Concedes in Likud Primary

Thursday, 28 November 2002 12:00 AM

Appearing before supporters in a crowded hotel hall in Tel Aviv, Netanyahu, himself a former prime minister, said he had phoned Sharon to congratulate him.

"It's the voter's decision," he said.

Netanyahu urged his supporters "to unite round the man chosen to lead our movement, Ariel Sharon."

Public opinion polls indicated that if national elections were held now, the Likud would win, so Thursday's primary is likely to determine Israel's next prime minister. Knesset elections are scheduled for Jan. 28.

Netanyahu conceded defeat after Israel's three television channels reported an 18 to 24 percent gap between Sharon and Netanyahu, and the first returns suggested an even bigger gap.

Channel 1 TV said Sharon won 61 percent of the votes against Netanyahu's 37 percent. "He wasn't just defeated, he was humiliated," commentator Amnon Abramovich said. The channel based its prediction on polling among 1,300 voters.

Channel 2 TV said Sharon won 58 percent of the votes, Netanyahu 40.5 percent, and an extreme right-wing candidate, Moshe Feiglin, 1.5 percent of the votes.

Pollster Mina Tsemah said the figures might change because voter turnout had been low, but "it is clear Sharon won."

Netanyahu has sharply criticized Sharon's policies as being too soft on the Palestinians, but in his campaign he shifted between political issues to economic ones in a frantic -- and unsuccessful -- attempt to win votes.

A poll published Friday showed that 40 percent of Sharon's supporters favored him because they believed him.

Sharon has said he would like to form a national unity government on the basis of the outgoing government's Cabinet guidelines, which he had negotiated with the Labor Party in 1999. If the Likud wins he would have to reach an agreement with the Labor Party's new dovish candidate, Amram Mitzna, which may be difficult task because of sharp differences between the two politicians.

Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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Appearing before supporters in a crowded hotel hall in Tel Aviv, Netanyahu, himself a former prime minister, said he had phoned Sharon to congratulate him. "It's the voter's decision," he said. Netanyahu urged his supporters "to unite round the man chosen to lead our...
Netenyahu,Concedes,Likud,Primary
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2002-00-28
Thursday, 28 November 2002 12:00 AM
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