Monday, 22 April, 2019

Netanyahu set for record fifth term

An Israeli Arab man walks past an electoral billboard bearing portraits of Blue and White political alliance leaders Moshe Yaalon Benny Gantz Yair Lapid and Gabi Ashkenazi Israel votes tomorrow. Here's what you need to know
Leonard Rios | 11 April, 2019, 00:56

"These elections have a clear victor and a clear loser".

Benny Gantz, Yair Lapid, Gabi Ashkenazi and Moshe Ya'alon, the four leaders of the Blue and White party, met on Wednesday and chose to concede Tuesday's elections to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Netanyahu also claimed victory, saying the overall number of seats won by the right-wing bloc was larger.

The close race between the two main parties had led to uncertainty after polls closed on Tuesday night and exit surveys were released.

One exit poll showed a possible tie between the right- and left-wing blocs, meaning that Gantz had an opportunity to replace Netanyahu as prime minister. "And here we have returned here, because of you and for you", Netanyahu said, adding that his win against Gantz was "almost unprecedented".

Palestinians have already decried the early election results as another vote for the status quo in the region, entrenching "oppression, occupation, annexation and dispossession in Palestine", Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), said in a statement. "Elections have losers and elections have winners".

Netanyahu and his main challenger Gantz were quick to claim victory in the elections.

"I want to make it clear, it will be a right-wing government, but I intend to be the prime minister of all Israeli citizens, right or left, Jews and non-Jews alike", he said.

At the sessions - which will be broadcast live - Mr Rivlin will pick a party leader to try to form a coalition, giving the candidate 28 days to do so, with a two-week extension if needed.

- The attorney general however has announced his intention to charge Netanyahu with bribery, fraud and breach of trust pending a hearing, with proceedings set to begin in the coming months.

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On Wednesday, Gantz wrote this message to his supporters, according to The Associated Press: "Though the skies appear gloomy, nothing is final".

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas has said he hoped that Israel's elections could help bring peace but senior Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi said Wednesday that the results showed otherwise.

The prime minister has served for roughly 13 years, in stints from 1996 to 1999 and again from 2009 until the present.

In the Israeli system, a governing coalition needs at least 61 seats in the 120-seat the Knesset (parliament).

US President Donald Trump, who featured on Likud campaign billboards, phoned the incumbent to congratulate him on his re-election, Mr Netanyahu said.

In a rare turn during the race towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Mr Netanyahu further alarmed Palestinians by pledging to annex Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank if re-elected. Netanyahu still appears to have the best chance of forming a coalition, though, with a smattering of small nationalist parties backing him.

Gantz called Netanyahu's pledge "irresponsible".

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

How do Israeli elections work? We will not back down from our public duty to represent over a million people who asked us for something different.

The tweet sparked anger among some social media users, who slammed him both for supporting Israeli policy and for sending his support to Netanyahu before Italy's prime minister or foreign affairs minister.

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