Benjamin Netanyahu Appears Set For Another Term As Israeli Prime Minister

Benjamin Netanyahu Appears Set For Another Term As Israeli Prime Minister

Benjamin Netanyahu Appears Set For Another Term As Israeli Prime Minister

Netanyahu's Likud party took about the same percentage of the vote as the Blue and White Alliance that backs his opponent, former general Benny Gantz.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looks set for a fifth term in office Wednesday after almost complete election results put him and fellow right-wingers on track to form a governing coalition.

However, only some 14,000 votes separate the two parties in an election with thousands of votes still to be counted, but Netanyahu was prepared to form a right-wing coalition government of the five conservative and ultra-Orthodox parties, which would give him 65-Knesset seats to form a majority government similar to what he has now, The Times of Israel reported.

Clouded by looming corruption indictments, Netanyahu is seeking a fourth consecutive term and a fifth overall, which would make him Israel's longest-serving leader, surpassing founding father David Ben-Gurion.

"I'm very confident that what was tried before failed", he said Tuesday in congressional testimony. Therefore Bibi may still be the one asked by Israel's President Rivlin to form a government (BTW asking a party leader to form a government is the only real power held by the Israeli President). Polls opened at 5am BST (7am local time) and will close at 8pm BST (10pm local time), with results expected to trickle in overnight.

People don't call Benjamin Netanyahu "the magician" for nothing.

"It's a night of tremendous victory".

"It is a night of colossal victory", the 69-year-old Netanyahu told cheering supporters in a late-night speech at Likud headquarters, while cautioning that a "long night and possibly day" lay ahead awaiting official results.

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After polls closed on Tuesday, former defense minister and leader of the right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party, Avigdor Lieberman, told Israeli news site Haartez that he did not believe the exit polls were accurate, accusing pollsters of "manipulation and psychological warfare".

"I thank the citizens of Israel for the trust", he said, adding: "I will begin building a right-wing government with our natural partners tonight".

Gantz called Netanyahu's remarks "irresponsible" electioneering and said that as Prime Minister he would not make any unilateral moves in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The message was equally simple: Blue and White had been created to reclaim the state of Israel from Prime Minister Netanyahu. Blue and White said in a statement.

In the Israeli system, a governing coalition needs at least 61 seats in the 120-seat the Knesset (parliament). The prime minister even approved a billboard in Tel Aviv showing himself shaking hands with the president in order to tout their close relationship.

"Israelis have voted to preserve the status quo".

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.

With Netanyahu's re-election, he's expected to form a coalition with the New Right Party. The Arab-Jewish socialist Hadash-Ta'al Party immediately lodged a complaint to the Central Elections Committee.

In fact, the outcome of Israel's elections essentially confirms what we knew. That could be scuppered if criminal charges are filed and force his removal. Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing and says the accusations are part of a liberal media's orchestrated witch hunt.

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