Netanyahu set to edge victory in tied election

Minnie Murray
April 11, 2019

If he does pull off the win, Netanyahu will secure his fourth consecutive term and fifth overall - becoming the nation's longest-serving prime minister.

Netanyahu and his main rival, a former military chief of staff, both declared victory shortly after the polls closed.

"I'd like to congratulate Bibi Netanyahu", said President Trump after almost complete results put the incumbent premier in position to form a coalition.

"We are the victors", Gantz said.

- The 59-year-old Gantz touts his military service and accuses Netanyahu of being corrupt and sowing division, but the two hold similar views on security issues and Israel's approach to the Palestinians. His apparent victory comes despite impending corruption charges.

"Netanyahu is more likely to establish another right-wing government, but we will have to wait and see", he said.

"It's about time for a change", said Barry Rifkin, a Jerusalem resident. Netanyahu dismissed the claims, and if exit polling is anything to go by, so did many voters. Some 40 parties are running, but no more than a dozen are expected to make it into parliament.

"It's looking bleak but the results are not yet final". Parties must receive at least 3.25 percent of the popular vote in order to gain a seat in the Knesset.

Benjamin Netanyahu has sought to portray himself as Israel's essential statesman.

Israel's president, Reuven Rivlin, could play an important role.

Despite that, Mr Netanyahu gained four seats compared to his outgoing coalition government, according to a spreadsheet published by the Central Elections Committee.

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.

"Voting is a holy act, the very essence of democracy", he said. Arab politicians condemned the move as voter intimidation. But I see the ultimate victory device in the next round.

Some have speculated that a unity government between Netanyahu and Gantz would help the country heal from a bitter election, and respond to threats from Iran and Hamas.

But some hope these blows will have the opposite effect, fueling enough frustration to drive up the Arab participation rate, which is typically lower than that of Israeli Jews. Netanyahu said such a scenario is backed by the centrist party's "secret deal" with Arab factions. "Because if you don't vote, Bibi wins", it said, referring to Netanyahu by his nickname.

A close result in the election would put smaller parties in a powerful position, even turning marginal political figures into kingmakers.

Even if he is re-elected, Netanyahu could have a hard time governing.

- 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.

Netanyahu has been surrounded by scandals and ongoing investigations into his administration.

Netanyahu has denied any wrongdoing and claimed he is the victim of a witch hunt.

Netanyahu has been premier for a total of more than 13 years.

In Gantz, he encountered the rare opponent who can match his security credentials.

Netanyahu had fought a tight race against centrist ex-army chief Benny Gantz.

The rolling back of decades of United States foreign policy has only helped Mr Netanyahu, who has portrayed himself as Israel's ultimate protector.

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