Netanyahu rivals win top 4 spots in Likud primary


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Four lawmakers who have clashed with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took the top spots in the Likud party primary.

Netanyahu was given a pass in Tuesday’s voting by party members and will still lead the Likud ticket in national elections scheduled for April 9.

The top finishers in the voting were Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein, Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan and Gideon Saar, a former interior minister, according to reports. In his first run for national office, former Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat came in the top 10.

Others appearing in the top 10 are Culture Minister Miri Regev, Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel, Tourism Minister Yariv Levin, Home Front Defense Minister Avi Dichter and Immigration Absorption Minister Yoav Gallant.

Likud now has 30 seats in the Knesset and is expected to have about the same number in the next parliament. Thus the candidates who finished below No. 30 in the primary will likely not be seated.

Controversial lawmaker Oren Hazan, as well as current lawmaker and Temple Mount advocate Yehuda Glick, finished below 30.

Some 15 seats of the top 40 are reserved for regional candidates, Netanyahu has three other seats that he can appoint, and there are four other seats reserved for a woman, a new immigrant, a young candidate and a minority candidate that could push some of the winners into lower positions.

The results will be finalized on Wednesday afternoon.

More than 69,700 Likud members voted, or 58 percent of party members.

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