TwitterFacebookPinterestGoogle+

Israel’s Netanyahu appears headed toward 5th term as PM

JERUSALEM (AP) — Benjamin Netanyahu appeared to be headed toward a historic fifth term as Israel’s prime minister on Wednesday, with close-to-complete unofficial election results giving his right-wing Likud and other nationalist and religious parties a solid majority in parliament.

The outcome affirmed Israel’s continued tilt to the right and further dimmed hopes of a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Re-election will also give Netanyahu an important boost as he braces for the likelihood of criminal charges in a series of corruption scandals.

With 97.4% of the vote counted, Likud and its traditional political allies were in command of a 65-55 majority in parliament. A couple of small parties were still teetering along the electoral threshold and fighting for their survival, so the final makeup of the next parliament has yet to be decided. Final results were expected Thursday.

Two of his potential allies, hawkish former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman and economic-centric Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, have yet to formally confirm they would sit with Netanyahu and could emerge as wildcards. In any case, the country now faces what could be weeks of political negotiations over the composition of a ruling coalition.

But under nearly every scenario, Netanyahu was the big winner.

The long-time Israeli leader had fought a tight, ugly race against centrist ex-military chief Benny Gantz, whose nascent Blue and White party emerged as a viable alternative to Netanyahu’s decade in power. The near-final results showed it deadlocked with Likud at 35 seats. But most of its support seems to have come at the expense of the venerable Labor and leftist Meretz parties, who both earned historic lows in Tuesday’s election.

Together with his current Jewish ultra-Orthodox and nationalist partners, Netanyahu seemed to have a clear path toward building a coalition government that has a majority in the 120-seat parliament.

With a victory, Netanyahu would capture a fourth consecutive term and fifth overall, which this summer will make him Israel’s longest-ever serving leader, surpassing founding father David Ben-Gurion.

“It’s a night of tremendous victory,” Netanyahu told supporters early Wednesday. “I was very moved that the nation of Israel once again entrusted me for the fifth time, and with an even greater trust.”

He said he had already begun talking to fellow right wing and religious parties about forming a new coalition.

“I want to make it clear, it will be a right-wing government, but I intend to be the prime minister of all Israeli citizens, right or left, Jews and non-Jews alike,” he said.

Netanyahu’s message of unity was a sharp contrast from his campaign theme in which he accused Gantz of conspiring with Arab parties to topple him. Arab leaders accused Netanyahu of demonizing the country’s Arab community, which is about 20 percent of the population.

His attacks on the Arab sector fueled calls for a boycott and appeared to result in relatively low turnout by Arab voters.

Overnight, with fewer of the votes counted, Blue and White still appeared to be ahead by one seat and Gantz projected optimism that he would be tasked with building a coalition. But by morning, he seemed to have realized his dream of becoming prime minister was lost, even if he didn’t formally concede defeat.

“Though the skies appear gloomy, nothing is final. There could be changes and some political options could open up,” he wrote to his supporters. “Our voters asked for hope and we gave it to them. They wanted a different way and we outlined it.”

Though the Palestinian issue was rarely mentioned in the raucous campaign, Netanyahu had in the final stretch pledged for the first time to annex parts of the occupied West Bank in a desperate bid to rally his right-wing base. Netanyahu has welched on election eve promises before, but should he follow through on this one, it would mark a dramatic development and potentially wipe out the already diminishing hope for Palestinian statehood.

An aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the outcome of the election raised Palestinian fears about an Israeli annexation of parts of the occupied West Bank. Ahmed Majdalani said Palestinians will seek the help of the international community to try to block any such plans. He said that the outcome of the election means a boost for what he called the “extreme right-wing camp” in Israeli politics.

Hanan Ashrawi, a senior Palestinian official, said Israel chose to entrench “the status quo of oppression, occupation, annexation and dispossession.”

The 69-year-old Netanyahu has been the dominant force in Israeli politics for the past two decades and its face to the world. His campaign has focused heavily on his friendship with President Donald Trump and his success in cultivating new allies, such as China, India and Brazil.

But his corruption scandals created some voter fatigue. Along with two other former military chiefs on his ticket, Gantz was able to challenge Netanyahu on security issues, normally the prime minister’s strong suit, while also taking aim at the prime minister’s alleged ethical lapses.

Israel’s attorney general has recommended charging Netanyahu with bribery, breach of trust and fraud in three cases and a potential fourth case emerged during the campaign. He will only decide on indicting Netanyahu after a legally mandated hearing. Legal experts expect at least some charges to be filed, which could set the stage for a short term in office for Netanyahu and another round of elections soon.

“This is a clear beginning of Netanyahu’s fifth term, but his fifth term might end up being his shortest one”, says Reuven Hazan, a political scientist from Jerusalem’s Hebrew University. “In another year, we might be in a battle for either leadership of the Likud or another election.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

VIDEO NEWS

National Politics

‘A good day’: Trump Claims Victory with Mueller Report Out

WASHINGTON (AP) — Before the world glimpsed the redacted version of the special counsel’s report,…

Biden to campaign as extension of Obama's political movement

BLUFFTON, S.C. (AP) — Joe Biden is finalizing the framework for a White House campaign…

Words and consequences: A look at the Omar and Trump feud

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump isn’t backing down from his tweets about Democratic Rep.…

Kim Open to Another Summit with Trump, with Conditions

PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said he is open…

STATE & LOCAL POLITICS

Governor Ron DeSantis Announces the Governor’s Initiative on Lawyers Assisting Warriors (GI LAW)

Eglin AFB, Fla. – Today, Governor Ron DeSantis announced the Governor’s Initiative on Lawyers Assisting Warriors (GI LAW), an…

VIDEO: Governor Ron DeSantis Highlights First 100 Days in Office

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. Today, Governor Ron DeSantis released a video highlighting his administration’s first 100 days in office.…

City of Edgewood Elects New Mayor

EDGEWOOD, Fla. (FNN NEWS) - At Edgewood City Council’s monthly meeting on April 16, 2019,…

Governor Ron DeSantis Delivers Remarks at the 58th Anniversary of the Bay of Pigs Invasion Luncheon

CORAL GABLES, Fla. - Today, Governor Ron DeSantis delivered remarks at a luncheon commemorating the…

FNN SPORTS

  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers players and staff, Darcie Glazer Kassewitz, along with tech leader Jabil, United Way Suncoast and Mayor Bob Buckhorn completed the renovation of Grant Park Community Center during the Bucs' Day of Service in 2018. Photo: Tampa Bay Business Journal.
    NEW YORK (FNN SPORTS) - NFL Rallying Fans to Give 100 Million Minutes of Service to Commemorate the 100th Season (Photo: Tampa Bay Business Journal)

MORE SPORTS NEWS

An error occured during creating the thumbnail.

Jaguars Unveil New Logo To Celebrate Team's Historic 25th Season

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) – Today the Jacksonville Jaguars kicked off a yearlong celebration of the…

An error occured during creating the thumbnail.

MATCH RECAP: Pride Shutout by North Carolina Courage

ORLANDO, Fla. - Orlando Pride (0-2-0, 0 points) fell to the defending National Women’s Soccer League…

An error occured during creating the thumbnail.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers announce 2019 regular season schedule

TAMPA, Fla. - The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 2019 regular season schedule, released today by the…

An error occured during creating the thumbnail.

Jacksonville Jaguars unveiled 2019 preseason and regular season schedules

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Jaguars have unveiled their 2019 preseason and regular season schedules, the…

An error occured during creating the thumbnail.

Orlando Pride Forward Alex Morgan Named to 2019 TIME 100 List

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) - Source: Orlando City SC // Orlando Pride and U.S. Women’s…

An error occured during creating the thumbnail.

Orlando Pride Falls 2-0 in Season Opener

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) - Source: Orlando City SC // Orlando Pride (0-1-0, 0 points) fell…

BUSINESS NEWS

  • Orange County Property Appraiser Rick Singh held a press conference Monday on returning $1 billion to the tax roll. (Photo by Willie David / Florida National News)
    ORLANDO (FNN NEWS) - Property Appraiser Rick Singh Recovers $1 Billion for Orange County Tax Roll (Photo by Willie David / Florida National News)

MORE BUSINESS NEWS

Shark Tank Star Daymond John, DWTS's Lindsay Arnold, Joey Fatone to Host Runway to Hope 2019 Gala

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) - Runway to Hope co-founder Attorney Mark NeJame announced on Facebook Wednesday…

Bank of America Raising Hourly Minimum Wage to $20

NEW YORK (AP) — Bank of America plans to raise its starting pay to $20…

Pinterest sets sites on $1.5B in first public share offering

NEW YORK (AP) — Pinterest, among a gaggle of tech companies planning to go public…

Gone in 6 minutes: an Ethiopian Airlines jet’s final journey

From nearly the moment they roared down the runway and took off in their new…

Linda McMahon to exit role at Small Business Administration

PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — The head of the Small Business Administration, Linda McMahon, is…

Facebook charged with housing discrimination by HUD

NEW YORK (AP) — The federal government charged Facebook with high-tech housing discrimination Thursday for allegedly…

ENTERTAINMENT NEWS

  • Pictures of Nipsey Hussle's life were displayed during his memorial service. Photo: Getty Images.
    LOS ANGELES (BBC News) - One Person Killed During Nipsey Hussle Memorial Procession (Photo: Getty Images.)

MORE ENTERTAINMENT NEWS

Shark Tank Star Daymond John, DWTS's Lindsay Arnold, Joey Fatone to Host Runway to Hope 2019 Gala

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) - Runway to Hope co-founder Attorney Mark NeJame announced on Facebook Wednesday…

Aretha Franklin makes history with posthumous Pulitzer win

NEW YORK (AP) — Aretha Franklin is still getting R-E-S-P-E-C-T after death: The Queen of…

Trivago Hotel Website Actor Arrested in Texas on DWI Charge

HOUSTON (AP) - The actor who has become something of a sex symbol as the…

Jay-Z to Perform at Newly Renovated Webster Hall in NYC

NEW YORK, N.Y. (AP) - Jay-Z will help re-open the newly renovated Webster Hall concert…

One Person Killed During Nipsey Hussle Memorial Procession

LOS ANGELES, Ca. (BBC News) - A person has been killed during a memorial procession for…

Netflix launches comedy channel on SiriusXM

NEW YORK (AP) — Netflix is launching its first audio venture that will feature the…

LIFESTYLE, TRAVEL & TOURISM

  • In this artist rendering, a new play pavilion in development at Epcot will include first-of-their-kind experiences devoted to playful fun, inviting guests into an innovative city bursting with interactive experiences and hands-on activities. Friends and family will interact with favorite Disney characters in an energetic metropolis unlike anything ever seen before at Epcot. The as-yet-unnamed space will debut to guests in time for the Walt Disney World 50th anniversary. (Disney)
    LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Innovative environment joins lineup of new and recently announced enhancements to the Walt Disney World Resort theme park. (Image: Disney)

MORE LIFESTYLE NEWS

Shark Tank Star Daymond John, DWTS's Lindsay Arnold, Joey Fatone to Host Runway to Hope 2019 Gala

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) - Runway to Hope co-founder Attorney Mark NeJame announced on Facebook Wednesday…

Trivago Hotel Website Actor Arrested in Texas on DWI Charge

HOUSTON (AP) - The actor who has become something of a sex symbol as the…

"Unplanned" Movie Comes to Orlando, Inspired by Conservative Activist Korrie Lupino Stevenson

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) - On Wednesday, March 27th, Unplanned the movie will be viewed…

Garden Rocks Concert Series Expands to Every Day of the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, March 6-June 3

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Garden Rocks Concert Series is back – every single day…

SPECIAL REPORT: Non-Compliance with State Law Plagues Orange County Soil & Water Board

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) - Florida currently has 58 Soil & Water Conservation Districts which were…

Chairman Daisy Morales Announces New Website for Orange Soil and Water Conservation District

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) – After four years of ongoing board meetings and delays to…