Netanyahu, challenger claim victory in Israeli parliamentary elections

Netanyahu, challenger claim victory in Israeli parliamentary elections

Right-wing bloc's success gives PM clear path to form new government, despite Likud tying in seats with Gantz's Blue and White; New Right and Zehut fail to cross threshold.

Both camps quickly claimed victory.

Binyamin Netanyahu is poised to become Israel's longest serving prime minister despite a close-fought election that appeared set to produce a tie.

"We won! The Israeli public has had their say!" The Blue and White will have to build a big lead to control the Prime Minister in the next government because Likud has a better chance of forming a coalition.

For his part, the Prime Minister announced he meant to sue Gantz and his key ally, Moshe Ya'alon, after the latter suggested Netanyahu could be guilty of treason in connection with an investigation into military procurement.

He vowed to change the tone of Israel's divisive political system and "be the prime minister of everyone, not just the ones who voted for me". "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 or non-Jews alike, all Israeli citizens", said Netanyahu. No single Israeli party has ever won enough seats to form a government, and all governments have been coalitions of several parties.

Netanyahu denies wrongdoing in all three cases and has the opportunity to convince the attorney general not to charge him in a pre-trial hearing, which is expected in July.

Gantz said he favoured a "globally backed peace agreement" with Israel holding on to the large West Bank settlement blocs, adding that he opposed unilateral moves. So we're not likely to see any official numbers until Wednesday.

In fact, the outcome of Israel's elections essentially confirms what we knew.

Tusk suggests Brexit delay of up to year
Labour favors a softer Brexit than the government has proposed, and wants to retain a close economic relationship with the bloc. He said: "Please, put us out of our misery now, as this House and this government appear incapable of doing".

- The 59-year-old Gantz touts his military service and accuses Netanyahu of being corrupt and sowing division, but the two hold similar views on security issues and Israel's approach to the Palestinians.

Though neither party captured a ruling majority in the Knesset, according to the exit polls, the surveys put Mr Netanyahu in a stronger position to form a coalition government with the help of right-wing factions.

"I have already started talks with the leaders of our right-wing parties, and nearly all of them have publicly declared that they will recommend me to form the government, and will do so to our president", Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu highlighted his close relationship with US President Donald Trump, who delighted Israelis and angered Palestinians by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital in 2017 and moving the American Embassy to the holy city last May.

In a rare turn during the race towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Netanyahu further alarmed Palestinians by pledging to annex Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank if re-elected.

"Netanyahu gathered all of the extremists and cannibalized his partners", Gantz continued.

He faced a tough challenge from Gantz, who offered the security credentials prized by Israelis and a clean-hands image, but lacked the political experience the prime minister accrued in a combined 13 years in office.

Netanyahu has an advantage as almost all right-wing parties have declared their support to the Israeli leader, Israeli media reported.

How do Israeli elections work? Though early campaign polls suggested that a majority of voters wanted to get rid of Benjamin Netanyahu, they failed to do so.

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