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Israeli hardliners score well in Likud vote

Likud 22%

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Hawkish members of Israel's right-wing Likud party put in a strong showing in an internal vote to choose candidates for next February's general election, according to results published on Tuesday.

While two men considered liberals took second and third place behind party chairman and former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the list was dominated by hardliners after Monday's ballot.

Among the strong performers were a former parliament speaker Reuven Rivlin, Benny Begin, the son of former prime minister Menachem Begin, and former army chief Moshe Yaalon -- all considered hawks who believe in a Greater Israel which includes the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Opinion polls have shown that if elections were held today, Likud would win 32 seats in the parliament, ahead of the centrist Kadima party currently heading a coalition government in Israel.

Netanyahu, 59, who served as premier from 1996 to 1999 but led his party to a crushing defeat to Kadima in 2006, said his party had chosen "the best team possible."

But media reports said a big concern for Netanyahu was the standing of a key rival, Moshe Feiglin, hea of the party's extreme right wing, who took the 20th slot.

Monday's ballot was marred by a low turnout and technical flaws which led to voting being extended.



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