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Israeli exit polls show Netanyahu losing election: reports

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In a surprising turn of events, exit polls in Israel show Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu losing the election. The prime minister’s voting block failed to reach a 61 seats majority in the Knesset.

According the to the Jerusalem Post, there is no clear winner in the election. However, Axios reports that Netanyahu has failed to secure a victory.

Haaretz also declared victory for his opponent.

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Netanyahu entered the election after having suffered one of the biggest defeats of his political career after the April vote.

His Likud along with its right-wing and religious allies won a majority of seats, leading Israeli President Reuven Rivlin to task the premier with forming a new government.

But following weeks of discussions, Netanyahu failed to do so, leading him to opt for an unprecedented second election rather than risk having Rivlin choose someone else.

– Immunity? –

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The danger for Netanyahu extended beyond remaining prime minister, a post he has held for a total of more than 13 years, first from 1996-1999 and again since 2009.

Israel’s attorney general has said he intends to indict Netanyahu for fraud, bribery and breach of trust pending a hearing expected only days after the election in early October. A final decision would come later.

Netanyahu would not be required to step down if indicted, only if convicted with all appeals exhausted.

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Recognizing the stakes, Netanyahu spent the final days of the campaign seeking to appeal to right-wing nationalists — key to his re-election bid — and to boost turnout among his base.

Those efforts have included a controversial pledge to annex the Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank, a third of the territory.

He has issued unfounded warnings that the vote could be stolen by fraud in Arab communities, leading critics to accuse him of racism.

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But Netanyahu has also highlighted the country’s growing economy and his relationships with world leaders such as US President Donald Trump.

He has tried to label his main opponents “weak” and “leftist” despite their security credentials.

“This is the choice that is open to you: their left-wing government or a strong right-wing government led by me,” he said on Facebook Live on Monday.

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– ‘Rude lies’ –

Gantz has campaigned by presenting himself as an honorable alternative to Netanyahu.

He has repeatedly spoken of Netanyahu’s willingness to form a coalition with far-right parties that could help him seek immunity.

Gantz says his alliance, which includes three former military chiefs of staff, wants a unity government that the vast majority of Israelis would support.

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“Netanyahu continues to spread rude lies in a desperate attempt to save his government,” Gantz said Monday. “He lies, scolds, skewers, divides.”

Opinion polls showed the campaign by Lieberman’s nationalist Yisrael Beitenu party has resonated with voters.

His “make Israel normal again” slogan refers to what the staunch secularist says is the undue influence of ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties on the country’s politics.

He accuses them of seeking to impose Jewish religious law on Israel’s secular population and wants legislation ending the ultra-Orthodox’s exemption from mandatory military service.

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Lieberman prevented Netanyahu from forming a coalition after April polls when he refused to relent on his demand related to military service for the ultra-Orthodox.

It is not clear he will endorse Netanyahu as prime minister again, which could be enough for Rivlin to allow Gantz to try to form a government.

 

(with additional reporting from AFP) 

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EU ambassador Sondland described as ‘potential national security risk’ by ex-Trump official: report

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Gordon Sondland, the man whom President Donald Trump appointed to be ambassador to the European Union, was described this week as a "potential national security risk" by a former top White House adviser, according to the New York Times.

According to the Times, former National Security Counsel official Fiona Hill said that Sondland posed a risk to American security because he was shockingly unqualified for the job he was given.

"[Hill] described Mr. Sondland, a hotelier and Trump donor-turned-ambassador, as metaphorically driving in an unfamiliar place with no guardrails and no GPS," the Times reports.

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‘Not true’: Fox News calls out Trump for lying about keeping US soldiers out of harm’s way

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As the U.S. military grapples with the logistics of a quick withdrawal from the northern part of Syria, President Donald Trump drew criticism for abandoning the Kurds and endangering U.S. troops. There are also reports that the army's departure has resulted in members of ISIS escaping from prison.

On Wednesday, Trump defended his decision, insisting that U.S. soldiers were not in danger. "Our soldiers are not in harm's way," he said. “That has nothing to do with us,” he added, about the conflict between Turkey and the Kurds at the Turkish-Syrian border.

But top military officials told Fox News that this was not true. "Not true, according to top US military commanders who tell Fox this is a complicated, deliberate phased withdrawal with a lot of inherent risk," Jennifer Griffin, National Security correspondent for Fox News, wrote on Twitter. "Already US warplanes had to warn approaching foreign troops with a show of force."

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‘Worse than Obama’: Lindsey Graham has full-blown freak out over Trump’s latest Syria statements

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Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on Wednesday had a full-blown freak out after President Donald Trump publicly said that the Turkish slaughter of the Kurds in northern Syria was not America's problem.

Writing on Twitter, the senator had his harshest condemnation yet of the president's decision to abruptly pull American troops out of Syria while giving Turkey a green light to invade the area.

"I hope President Trump is right in his belief that Turkeys invasion of Syria is of no concern to us, abandoning the Kurds won’t come back to haunt us, ISIS won’t reemerge, and Iran will not fill the vacuum created by this decision," Graham wrote. "However, I firmly believe that if President Trump continues to make such statements this will be a disaster worse than President Obama’s decision to leave Iraq."

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