Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Thursday defeated MK Gideon Sa'ar in the primaries for the leadership of the Likud and will continue to lead the party in the elections to the 23rd Knesset.

A final tally of the votes found that Netanyahu won 72.5% of the votes, compared to 27.5% for Sa’ar.

After the final results were published, Sa'ar called Netanyahu and congratulated him on his victory in the primaries.

Netanyahu thanked Sa’ar and said that now everyone will work together towards a Likud victory in the Knesset elections.

Netanyahu responded to his victory in the primaries for the leadership of the Likud party, saying, "A huge victory. Thank you to the members of the Likud for their trust, support and love. With the help of God and with your help, I will lead the Likud to a big victory in the upcoming elections and continue to lead the State of Israel to unprecedented achievements.”

Sa'ar issued a statement following Netanyahu's victory in the primaries.

“Congratulations to the Prime Minister on his victory in the primaries. My colleagues and I will stand behind him in campaigning for the Likud's success in the general elections. This contest was immensely important to the Likud and its democratic character. I am content with my decision to have stood - it was the right decision. Those who are unwilling to take a risk for what they believe in - will never succeed,” he said.

The polls in the primaries closed at 11:00 p.m. on Thursday evening, and the vote counting began. The results as they are being received at the Likud party's headquarters in Kfar Maccabiah show an overwhelming victory for Netanyahu.

For example, Netanyahu received 628 votes in Tiberias compared to only 108 for Sa’ar. In Yeruham, Netanyahu won 85% of the vote, and 88% on Sderot.

The voter turnout in the primaries was 49.15%.

According to an exit poll published by Direct Polls, Netanyahu won 71.52%, and Sa'ar won 28.48%.

Sa'ar said after the polls closed, "Thank you to the friends, volunteers, and many voters. To everyone who believes in the path we have embarked on. You have shown faith, courage and determination. I love you and I am proud of you.”