After close Israeli election, Benny Gantz’s party concedes defeat

Erika Holt
April 12, 2019

The congratulatory tweet from the USA leader comes as preliminary results indicate that the right-wing Likud Party, headed by incumbent Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is leading in the Israeli parliamentary election.

The final results are subject to change.

The Blue and White party will also receive 35 seats, but Netanyahu is likelier to be able to cobble together a governing coalition, as the right-wing bloc is projected to have 65 seats (out of 120) versus 55 for the left-wing bloc.

The final results will depend on the performance of several small parties, including the Arab Balad party and the ultranationalist "New Right, " that were on the cusp of entering parliament.

However, the biggest mistake for Gantz is that he chose to have a rotation agreement [as prime minister] with Blue and White cofounder Yair Lapid, former finance minister and TV personality.

"We didn't win in this round".

Re-election will give Netanyahu an important boost as he braces for the likelihood of criminal charges in a series of corruption scandals.

"The fact that Bibi won, I think we'll see some pretty good action in terms of peace", Trump told reporters, using Netanyahu's nickname.

Netanyahu celebrated his projected win Tuesday night with scores of supporters who were waving President Trump flags, aware of their longtime friendship.

"The common features of these parties are that, firstly, they are right-wing parties, I would even say the far-right-wing parties, which has been indicated even in their names", he said.

Trump had welcomed Netanyahu to the White House just two weeks before the election to offer his latest landmark gesture of support - U.S. recognition of Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights, captured from Syria in 1967. "They have chosen an overwhelmingly right-wing, xenophobic and anti-Palestinian parliament to represent them", she said.

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Barak said that Netanyahu now has plenty of options in forming a coalition.

Intensive coalition negotiations will follow and could drag on for days or even weeks. This is because the military governor adopts almost every new Knesset legislation as a matter of course.

But the right result and the near-success of newcomer Mr Gantz showed the country that there is a viable alternative to Mr Netanyahu's decade in power.

The number of ballots cast for political parties - which are expected not to pass the electoral threshold - will be the highest in history of the Knesset elections and would amount to an equivalent of 10 parliament seats, making hundreds of thousands of votes essentially meaningless.

Reuven Rivlin added that, for the first time, his meetings with party leaders would be broadcast on live television "in the name of transparency".

"The rightist bloc led by Likud has won a clear victory", Netanyahu said in a statement. Arab leaders accused Netanyahu of demonizing the country's Arab community, which is about 20 percent of the population.

"Everybody said you can't have peace in the Middle East with Israel and Palestinians".

Hanan Ashrawi, a veteran official from the Palestine Liberation Organization, said Israelis had chosen racism and permanent conflict.

Italy's right-wing deputy prime minister, Matteo Salvini, tweeted his own congratulations to his "friend" Netanyahu.

The Prime Minister faces possible indictment in three graft cases, and has denied wrongdoing in all of them.

He will only decide on indicting Netanyahu after a legally mandated hearing.

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