Netanyahu's historic win gives him the mandate he wanted

Netanyahu's historic win gives him the mandate he wanted

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was on track for victory in Israel's election on Wednesday after almost complete results put him in position to form a right-wing coalition and further extend his long tenure in office.

Two updated exit polls early on Wednesday put Netanyahu's Likud ahead of Gantz's Blue and White by one seat.

Both parties would, in any case, fall far short of a majority and be forced to form a coalition.

With his Likud at 35, and five right-wing and ultra-Orthodox parties managing to get some 30 seats together, Netanyahu could confidently work to form a government similar to his current right-wing coalition, with a solid 65 seats. "While the official results have yet not been published, one matter is clear: you have - once again - gained the trust of the people of Israel in record numbers". Israel is governed by coalitions of parties, so the total number of the right- and left-wing blocs matter more than the size of the biggest party.

Netanyahu spoke later and declared himself the victor of a fifth term in office.


Fireworks flared behind him as his wife Sara applauded and kissed him.

Al Jazeera's senior political analyst Marwan Bishara said that based on all three exit polls, it is hard to see how Mr Gantz can form a government without Likud, meaning it's likely Mr Netanyahu will continue a the nation's leader for another term.

As a result, it will nearly certainly be Netanyahu who is called upon by President Reuven Rivlin to form the next government.

Shushan Levi, 61, called Gantz's performance an "enormous victory for an alliance so new". Unless he reverses on campaign pledges to shun Netanyahu, and joins him in a broad coalition, Gantz looked destined to lead a center-left parliamentary opposition.

President Donald Trump is congratulating Benjamin Netanyahu as he appears to be headed for a fifth term as prime minister of Israel. "There is no other option!" he said.


Netanyahu has said he is innocent and will only stand down if convicted.

An aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the outcome of the election raised Palestinian fears about an Israeli annexation of parts of the occupied West Bank.

Extending Israeli sovereignty on a large scale in the West Bank could end already fading hopes for a two-state solution with the Palestinians. Whether or not he will follows through, his next government will further tighten Israel's grip on the territories, to prevent any prospects of a viable Palestinian state.

In showcasing his close ties with Mr Trump during the race, Mr Netanyahu sought to tap into the president's popularity among Israelis, who delighted in his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital in 2017 and the subsequent transfer of the U.S. embassy there from Tel Aviv.

He also used Trump-like tactics, calling the corruption investigations a "witch hunt" and denouncing journalists covering them. But most of its support seems to have come at the expense of the Labor and leftist Meretz parties, who both earned historic lows in Tuesday's election.


Turnout was 67.9 percent compared to 71.8 percent in the last election in 2015. Gantz was able to challenge Netanyahu on security issues, normally the prime minister's strong suit, while also taking aim at his alleged ethical lapses. Anti-Semitism has been a highly debated topic in recent months following critical comments from freshman Muslim Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) about an Israeli organization called the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and its influence on American politics.

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