Trump congratulates Israel's Netanyahu on election victory

Apr 13, 2019, 00:32
Trump congratulates Israel's Netanyahu on election victory

Netanyahu also claimed victory, saying the overall number of seats won by his right-wing bloc was larger. Gantz was the chief of staff of the nation's army, the Israeli Defense Force, for four years under Netanyahu.

But the scandals weren't enough to sink Netanyahu's bid to become Israel's longest-serving prime minister.

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

Two weeks before the election, Mr Trump signed a proclamation, with Mr Netanyahu at his side at the White House, recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights captured from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war.

Gantz, who had declared victory on election night, said Wednesday his party would "respect the decision of the people and we will respect the decision of the president".

No party has ever won a majority in the Knesset's 120-seat parliament and the country has always had coalition governments. The former military chief Mr Gantz ran, essentially, as the man who was not Mr Netanyahu but could match him for "toughness" on security.

Israel's economy grew almost 75 percent during Netanyahu's decade in power, expanding even during the global recession, though the gains haven't done much to close the gap between rich and poor.

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His comments were an apparent reference to Netanyahu's recent pledge to annex Jewish settlements in the West Bank if he wins the election.

The two major pro-peace parties (Labor and Meretz) together have less than ten percent of the Knesset.

Blue and White candidate Benny Gantz has refused to concede the Israeli general elections.

The race between Gantz's and Netanyahu's coalitions attracted global attention.

The right-wing bloc is predicted to have around 65 seats, compared with 55 for the centre and left, similar to the make up of the outgoing parliament.

Netanyahu appeared poised for a historic fifth term as prime minister with almost all the ballots counted from Tuesday's vote.

And with peace and security dominating the race, Netanyahu had a formidable record on which to run: isolation of the Palestinian Authority, containment of the Hamas threat in Gaza and growing alliances, once unthinkable, with Arab states. Exactly what that will look like and what concessions will be demanded from Israel and others remains to be seen. "That set the stage for an extraordinary election victory", Gold said.

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Two of his potential allies, hawkish former Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman and economic-centric Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, have yet to formally confirm they would sit with Netanyahu and could emerge as wildcards.

The first is the allegations of corruption including receiving thousands of dollars in undeclared gifts, as well as offering legal reforms in exchange for favourable media coverage.

The attorney general has announced he intends to indict Netanyahu for bribery, fraud and breach of trust pending an upcoming hearing.

"They have said no to peace and yes to the occupation", he said. Allies could even try to enact legislation protecting Netanyahu from prosecution as a sitting leader. For decades, regimes in the region have played the Palestinian question as a populist card to show off their pan-Arab or pan-Islamic credentials.

Israeli policy in the occupied Palestinian territories will also remain a prominent issue.

Although the count of what is collectively known in Israeli elections as "double envelopes" - which are counted last - is expected to continue until late Thursday, the possibility of those ballots making a significant difference is questionable.

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