Israeli Election Puts Netanyahu on Track for Fifth Term

Israeli Election Puts Netanyahu on Track for Fifth Term

Israeli Election Puts Netanyahu on Track for Fifth Term

A coalition led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party has won a majority of seats in Knesset (Israel's parliament), preliminary results showed on Wednesday.

Almost complete results in the tight election put Mr Netanyahu in position to form a narrow parliamentary majority with a coalition of right-wing and religious parties, allowing him to become Israel's longest-serving prime minister.

With 97 percent of the votes counted, neither of the candidates' parties had captured a ruling majority, but Netanyahu was clearly in a strong position to form a coalition government with other right-wing factions that have backed him.

"He's been a great ally and he's a friend, I'd like to congratulate him", Trump said of Netanyahu.

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.

But a third exit poll predicted the bloc would be tied with centre-left parties allied to Mr Gantz.

Unlike the Israelis they hardly have any say over their own future, and when it comes to many Arab states, they can not really count on any real support. As disruptive as the break-up of the party landscape and the large number of internal conflicts in Israeli society have been, one thing remains true: Israel is - with the possible exception of Tunisia - the only democracy in the region whose election results are not suspect.

Yet the New York Times had declared the election a "setback" for Netanyahu, based on exit polls that showed Likud losing by a substantial margin to the opposition, led by former Israel Defense Forces (IDF) chief of staff Benny Gantz.

The message that the Israeli public has sent is very clear.

Netanyahu spoke later and declared himself the victor of a fifth term in office.

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A US peace plan, which US President Donald Trump's administration says would present new solutions to break the impasse, is expected to be unveiled shortly after the election.

"It will be a rightwing government, but I will be prime minister for all", he said.

"There are 120 MPs in the Israeli parliament, and in order to form a government, each of these parties should attract other parties to the coalition", he said.

In showcasing his close ties with Mr Trump during the race, Mr Netanyahu sought to tap into the president's popularity among Israelis, who delighted in his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital in 2017 and the subsequent transfer of the U.S. embassy there from Tel Aviv.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appears poised to be the president's choice.

Most votes have been counted and the polls in Israel suggest there is no clear victor in the closely fought general election. There was no immediate comment from Netanyahu's conservative Likud.

Netanyahu will likely seek a coalition with ultra-nationalist and Jewish Orthodox parties.

With Trump already having recognised Jerusalem as Israel's capital, Netanyahu further alarmed Palestinians by announcing during the campaign his intention to annex Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank if re-elected.

Democratic Senator Tim Kaine asked Pompeo, a former Republican member of the House of Representatives, if he thought a peace agreement including one state for Israel and one state for the Palestinians was an outdated idea.

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