Monday, 22 April, 2019

Netanyahu's main election challenger concedes election defeat

Israelis head to polls as Prime Minister Netanyahu seeks fifth term Israel election: Exit polls show Netanyahu in tight race with main rival Gantz
Leonard Rios | 12 April, 2019, 04:27

With almost all votes counted, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looks set to win a historic fifth term in office, fending off a tough challenge from opposition leader Benny Gantz with support from right-wing parties.

Though Likud were unable to best Blue and White, Netanyahu's wider right-wing coalition-of which he is also the leader-means the 69 year old has a clear path to forming a majority government. He enjoys warm relations with President Donald Trump, who's delivered him jackpots like withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal, recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital and recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights captured from Syria in 1967. By morning, Gantz admitted that the odds were not in his favor, but issued a statement to supporters saying that the movement was only at the beginning of its journey.

But "King Bibi", as some have called him, now faces the prospect of becoming the first sitting prime minister to be indicted.

More than 40 parties vied in Tuesday's election with turnout hit around 61% of eligible voters.

"With 97.4% of the vote counted, Likud and its traditional political allies were in command of a 65-55 majority in parliament". PA sources say that they have no practical ways to prevent this. As disruptive as the break-up of the party landscape and the large number of internal conflicts in Israeli society have been, one thing remains true: Israel is - with the possible exception of Tunisia - the only democracy in the region whose election results are not suspect.

All three exit polls showed Netanyahu more likely to be able to do so with smaller rightwing parties allied to him in the 120-seat parliament. "These elections have a clear victor and a clear loser".

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Marina Mabrey for the Irish led the charge, nailing three of four three point shots to bring Notre dame back to a 74-74 tie. She made the second, despite trying to miss. "I just knew that if I fouled her, the worst that could happen was overtime".

On Election Day, Netanyahu's Likud party placed 1,200 hidden cameras at polling stations in Arab neighborhoods in what was widely viewed as an attempt to intimidate potential voters.

Pressed by Democratic Senator Tim Kaine - who described himself as "kind of shocked" that Pompeo would not reaffirm U.S. support for a two-state solution - the top USA diplomat said the United States wanted "good things" for the Palestinians but that a solution had to be acceptable to both sides. The third exit poll predicted this bloc would be tied with center-left parties that Gantz would have to enlist to form a coalition government.

At the sessions, which Rivlin said would be broadcast live "to ensure transparency", he will then 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.

Netanyahu put his close relationship with President Trump and other world leaders at the center of his campaign. But Mr Netanyahu will no longer be able to fend off pressure by citing United States opposition. 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.

In response, an aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said it would look to the global community for help blocking an annexation. The tight election, called early because of Mr Netanyahu's corruption woes, backed him into a corner and the result was an even more toxic campaign than usual.

"This is a clear beginning of Netanyahu's fifth term, but his fifth term might end up being his shortest one", said Reuven Hazan, a political scientist from Jerusalem's Hebrew University.

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