Quantcast
Connect with us

Netanyahu on path for victory in Israeli election

Published

on

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was on path for victory in Israel’s election on Wednesday after nearly complete results put him in position to form a right-wing coalition and further extend his long tenure in office.

The results from Tuesday’s vote came despite corruption allegations against the 69-year-old premier and put him on track to become Israel’s longest-serving prime minister later this year.

ADVERTISEMENT

His Likud party looked set to finish with a similar number of seats in parliament to his main rival, ex-military chief Benny Gantz’s centrist Blue and White alliance, Israeli media reported.

But with 97 percent of the votes counted, results showed the Likud and other right-wing parties allied to him with some 65 seats in the 120-seat parliament.

The results would seem to leave President Reuven Rivlin, whose task it is to ask one of the candidates to form a government, with little choice but to pick Netanyahu.

 AFP / Jonathan WALTER Israeli elections

Intensive coalition negotiations will follow and could drag on for days or even weeks.

Final results were expected by Thursday afternoon, with ballots for soldiers and other special categories of voters yet to be counted.

ADVERTISEMENT

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

Both Netanyahu and Gantz claimed victory after the initial exit surveys that gave Blue and White the most seats.

But even then Netanyahu appeared best placed to form a coalition, with both parties in any case falling far short of an outright majority.

ADVERTISEMENT

– ‘Magnificent victory’ –

Netanyahu spoke in the early hours of Wednesday at the Likud’s post-election party in Tel Aviv and called it a “magnificent victory.”

ADVERTISEMENT

 AFP / Jack GUEZ Netanyahu, who has been accused of damaging Israel’s social fabric with his divisive brand of populism, tells supporters he will lead a right-wing government but be “prime minister for all”

As he walked onto the stage to chanting crowds, he planted a kiss on the lips of his wife Sara.

“It will be a right-wing government, but I will be prime minister for all,” he said.

Earlier while addressing cheering supporters who waived Israeli flags at an event hall in Tel Aviv, Gantz called it a “historic day.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Speaking to journalists outside his home on Wednesday morning, Gantz said “we’re waiting until the end of the results.”

“This is a historic accomplishment. There has never been a party so large, so significant, with so many good people that was founded in such a short period of time.”

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

                                              AFP / MENAHEM KAHANA Netanyahu’s centrist challenger, former military chief Benny Gantz, celebrates the strong showing for his newly formed political alliance before the publication of near-complete results suggesting he had not quite done enough

Fighting for his political life, Netanyahu spent the weeks ahead of the vote campaigning furiously to energise his right-wing base.

ADVERTISEMENT

Gantz, a newcomer to politics, mounted a strong challenge by brandishing his security credentials while pledging to undo damage he says Netanyahu has inflicted on the country with divisive politics.

The election was in many ways a referendum on the premier who has built a reputation as guarantor of the country’s security and economic growth, but whose populism and alleged corruption left many ready for change.

He engaged in populist rhetoric that critics said amounted to the demonisation of Arab Israelis and others.

Netanyahu faced further criticism on election day when members of his Likud party brought small cameras into polling stations in Arab areas.

ADVERTISEMENT

Arab politicians called it an attempt at intimidation, while Netanyahu said cameras would prevent fraud.

AFP / Jonathan WALTER Israel election

True to form, Netanyahu issued a deeply controversial pledge only three days before the election, saying he planned to annex Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank should he win.

Extending Israeli sovereignty on a large scale in the West Bank could be the death knell to already fading hopes for a two-state solution with the Palestinians.

It is a move long championed by Israel’s far right.

– King Bibi –

ADVERTISEMENT

Netanyahu sought to portray himself as Israel’s essential statesman in the run-up to the vote and highlighted his bond with US President Donald Trump.

He spoke of Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and of Israel’s claim of sovereignty over the annexed Golan Heights.

AFP / MENAHEM KAHANA A Netanyahu supporter wears a Donald Trump mask to highlight the close relationship between the Israeli premier and the US president who has handed him a series of diplomatic prizes since taking office in 2017

He also used Trump-like tactics, calling the corruption investigations a “witch hunt” and denouncing journalists covering them.

On Tuesday, he continually warned the Likud was at risk of losing as a result of what he said was low turnout among supporters, claims widely seen as a bid to motivate right-wing voters.

ADVERTISEMENT

Turnout was 67.9 percent compared to 71.8 percent in the last election in 2015.

Gantz, a 59-year-old former paratrooper, invoked the corruption allegations against the premier to make his case that it is time for him to go.

He called Netanyahu’s annexation pledge an “irresponsible” bid for votes.

Gantz said he favoured a “globally backed peace agreement” with Israel holding on to the large West Bank settlement blocs, adding that he opposed unilateral moves.

ADVERTISEMENT

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.

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

AFP/File / JACK GUEZ

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

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

ADVERTISEMENT


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

United States, Mexico, Canada finalize Donald Trump’s USMCA trade deal

Published

on

The United States, Mexico and Canada signed a deal Tuesday to finalize their new trade agreement, paving the way to ratification after more than two years of arduous negotiations.

However, the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump in the US Senate would likely delay Congressional ratification of the agreement until next year, said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

In reality, it is the second time the three countries have triumphantly announced the conclusion of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the deal meant to replace the 25-year-old NAFTA, which President Donald Trump complains has been "a disaster" for the US.

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

WATCH: Maddow hilariously recaps Trump’s ‘shenanigans in the Oval Office’ with the Russian foreign minister

Published

on

MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow on Tuesday examined President Donald Trump's meeting with Russian Federation Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov -- on the same day that the House of Representatives unveiled articles of impeachment against the commander-in-chief.

Following the meeting, Lavrov trolled Trump on the issues of foreign election interference and Trump's habit of revealing classified intelligence.

"Given that, given the way the president is being impeached for having done all those things to Ukraine in and way that undermined our alliance with them and specifically their fight against Russian aggression -- which has, you know, led to a five-year-long war in Ukraine -- I mean given the fact he's being impeached for undermining Ukraine in its war against Russia, this is heck of a day to choose to have the Russian foreign minister sitting on your lap in the Oval Office," Maddow said.

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

Trump propaganda network tried to get visa for arrested Ukrainian official to give them Biden dirt: report

Published

on

On Tuesday, The Daily Beast reported that One America News Network, a pro-Trump TV channel that competes with Fox News, tried to secure a U.S. visa for Oleksandr Onyshchenko, a former Ukrainian lawmaker who was arrested last week by German authorities on corruption charges.

OAN reportedly was interested in transporting Onyschenko to America to help uncover dirt on Burisma, the energy company linked to former Vice President Joe Biden's son, and the focus of President Donald Trump's attempts to coerce the Ukrainian government to interfere with U.S. elections. They are reportedly also seeking visas for "several other" Ukrainian officials.

Continue Reading