Netanyahu, Gantz Claim Victory In Israeli Closely-Fought Parliamentary Elections - World News

Minnie Murray
April 14, 2019

Bezalel Smotrich, co-leader of the party told Channel 12 TV news that he has spoken with Netanyahu over the phone and expressed his support to the potential coalition. It also will give Netanyahu an important boost as he braces for the possibility of criminal charges in a series of corruption scandals.

Additionally, Netanyahu courted more overtly racist elements of the Israeli far right as he eyed reelection. Tuesday's election came just days after Netanyahu vowed to annex illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank if he won.

The last round of US-brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians collapsed in 2014.

As of now, the right-wing Likud party headed by Netanyahu and the opposition centrist block Kahol-lavan are in the lead.

"It is a night of colossal victory", Netanyahu said, thanking his supporters, the members of his party and his wife, Sarah, who he kissed before and after the speech and who never left his side.

Austria's right-wing Chancellor Sebastian Kurz tweeted that, "one matter is clear: you (Netanyahu) have - once again - gained the trust of the people of Israel in record numbers". "I intend to finish the work quickly, with the aim of forming a stable national government".

Some still thought him callow, but in the traumatic aftermath of the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, a mini-war in Lebanon and a series of horrendous Hamas bombings, he became prime minister for the first time in 1996. His campaign has focused heavily on his friendship with Trump and his success in cultivating new allies, such as China, India and Brazil.

With ex-military chief Benny Gantz's centrist Blue and White coalition leading in the polls, Netanyahu pulled out all the stops to shore up right-wing support. He faces possible indictment in three graft cases, and has denied wrongdoing in all three. However, with 97 percent of the votes counted, the nation's three main TV station declared Mr Netanyahu the victor.

The vote had always been expected to be close, even with Netanyahu facing potential corruption charges.

Likud party ballot papers and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's campaign fliers are seen on the ground after polls for Israel's general elections closed in Tel Aviv Israel
Israelis head to polls as Prime Minister Netanyahu seeks fifth term

Spivak noted that, taking into account all that has been stated, it can be said that the results of the Israeli elections are not yet clear, and the intriguing situation in the country will continue for another month and a half, until a government is finally formed. "And we are the winners", Gantz told a victory rally shortly after midnight.

Palestinian leaders have indicated they are deeply skeptical, given Mr Trump's all-out support for Mr Netanyahu. Turnout was reportedly lower than usual in the neighborhoods. "Netanyahu's Likud party provided activists with 1,200 hidden cameras "to monitor" Arab polling stations - a move that prompted Israel's Central Elections Committee to file a police complaint".

Almost all votes have been tallied after Israel's parliamentary elections on Tuesday.

Although the president acts largely in a ceremonial capacity, he is charged with choosing a candidate for prime minister after hearing recommendations from the heads of all factions.

Further down the list, the election featured some surprises.

If Netanyahu is re-elected, attention will quickly focus on his legal woes. "In total, Netanyahu has 48 guaranteed mandates". Fighting for his political life, Netanyahu spent the weeks ahead of the vote campaigning furiously to energise his right-wing base. He also pledged to annex West Bank settlements, a step that could snuff out any remaining hopes for a two-state solution with the Palestinians.

Challenged on election day, the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, refused to say what the U.S. would do if the Israeli government tried to annex parts of the West Bank.

"They want their occupation to be endless", he said.

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