Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has been re-elected leader of the Likud Party by a large majority, in an election overshadowed by attacks on Israelis at home and abroad. Sharon won 55.8 per cent of the vote compared with 40.8 per cent for Foreign Minister and former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Both called for party unity and Netanyahu pledged to work with his rival. Sharon is now likely to continue as prime minister, since Likud is well ahead of Labour in polls ahead of 28 January's general election.
Sharon's victory celebrations were cancelled in the wake of two attacks on Israelis. In the northern town of Beit Shean four people were killed when gunmen fired on and threw grenades at voters in a polling station (MEED 28:11:02). The Al-Asqa Martyrs Brigade claimed responsibility. In Kenya suicide car bombers killed 15 when they detonated their explosives in the lobby of a hotel popular with Israelis in Mombasa (MEED 28:11:02). Two missiles were also fired at an Israeli plane that had just taken off from the city's airport. The tactic of launching simultaneous, high-profile attacks is leading many to suggest al-Qaeda involvement.