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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? –

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.

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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.

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.

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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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Trump busted for acting like the Saudi’s ‘press secretary’ after Florida naval yard shooting

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Conservative Washington Post columnist Max Boot blasted President Donald Trump for essentially becoming a "press secretary" for the Saudi Arabian government in wake of the Pensacola, Florida mass shooting.

In his column Sunday, Boot noted that the typical mass shooting sentiments like "thoughts and prayers" were absent Friday when Trump discovered that the shooting was done by a Muslim.

"It turns out that Trump actually has a triple standard, because he treats attacks by Saudis differently than those from other Muslim nations," Boot observed. "On Friday, a Saudi air force officer studying at the Naval Air Station Pensacola shot dead three Americans and wounded eight others. Instead of expressing outrage or vowing vengeance, or even waiting for all the facts to come in, Trump sounded as if he were auditioning for the job of press secretary at the Saudi Embassy."

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McConnell blocked by his own party from calling impeachment witnesses Trump wants for Senate trial: report

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According to a report from the New York Times, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is finding his hands tied by members of his own party who are skeptical over the appropriateness of calling some of the witnesses Donald Trump  -- and a few of his House Republican enablers  -- want to appear.

As the Times notes, "While Democrats who control the House are focused on a swift impeachment vote by year’s end, the White House is almost entirely consumed by the trial that would follow in the Republican-controlled Senate, where Mr. Trump’s team believes he would have the chance to defend himself and where Democrats would almost certainly fall short of the two-thirds vote they would need to remove him from office."

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Ted Cruz hammered as ‘Putin’s stooge’ after humiliating himself on NBC to push Kremlin propaganda

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In a column for the Washington Post, conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin in publically shamed Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) for his conversion from Cold War Russia critic to unabashed "Putin stooge" after his performance on "Meet the Press" on Sunday.

Speaking with NBC host Chuck Todd on Sunday, Cruz attempted to push what has been described as Kremlin propaganda, asserting that "there is evidence of Ukraine interference in our election because an op-ed was written criticizing Trump’s campaign rhetoric about Ukraine." 

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