Trump congratulates Israel's Netanyahu on election victory

14 April, 2019, 02:47 | Author: Emmett Rice
  • U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo testifies before a Senate foreign Relations Committee hearing on the State Department budget request in Washington

Netanyahu's Likud party and Gantz's centrist Blue and White party won 35 seats each, according to the close-to-final results.

His main rival also claimed victory, but Mr Netanyahu's right-wing bloc has secured more seats than the centre-left. Both Mr Netanyahu and Mr Gantz's parties won 35 seats each, the Israeli parliament the Knesset reports.

"Yadut HaTorah party, which gained eight seats in the parliament, also positions itself as a right-wing party, even though it was in the past with the left-wing parties in the government", Spivak said.

Israel's Blue and White party leaders have conceded defeat in Israel's election, saying they will work against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from the opposition.

The daily said that Gantz's party had insufficient support from other parties to prevent Netanyahu staying in power for what will be a fifth term. Gantz has been the toughest challenger to his consecutive ten-year-long ruling.

The close and often vitriolic contest was widely seen in Israel as a referendum on Mr Netanyahu's character and record in the face of corruption allegations.

He sought to overcome Netanyahu's experience by allying with two other former military chiefs and ex-finance minister Yair Lapid.

Gantz told reporters Wednesday that the broad support for his centrist Blue and White party proves "the people want a different way and we are going to deliver it".

"We didn't win in this round".

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President Donald Trump said Wednesday that election results handing a narrow victory to right-wing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu give a "better chance" to a yet to be unveiled USA peace plan.

Netanyahu's message of unity was a sharp contrast from his campaign theme in which he accused Gantz of conspiring with Arab parties to topple him. Netanyahu has reneged on election eve promises before, but should he follow through on this one, it would mark a dramatic development and potentially wipe out the already diminishing hope for Palestinian statehood.

"I'd like to congratulate" Netanyahu, said Trump, after almost complete results put the incumbent premier in position to form a coalition and extend his long tenure.

With five seats each were Yisrael Beytenu (with 4.15%) and the Union of Right-Wing Parties (3.66%). In February, he said that Israel's almost two million Arabs were not true citizens of the country.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures after he speaks following the announcement of exit polls in Israel's parliamentary election at the party headquarters in Tel Aviv, Israel on April 10, 2019.

In Taybeh, an Arab town, Hadash party official Hosam Azem, 52, said: "Arabs who don't vote, majority don't do it for ideological reasons - just because they don't think their vote will have an impact", he said.

Israel's attorney general has recommended charging Netanyahu with bribery, breach of trust and fraud. But with the corruption cases hanging over him, a hearing he must attend, and the potential for the humiliating prospect of becoming an indicted sitting prime minister, this decision-making may yet continue.

So Mr Netanyahu, in trying to save his political life, has grown increasingly desperate. The Israeli public has had its say! This was most evident in his late pledge to annex Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Ofer Zalzberg, a senior analyst at the International Crisis Group, said Netanyahu played to his constituency by portraying any future Palestinian state as a threat to Israel's security.

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