Jerusalem: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is heading towards forming a coalition government again after winning the election. The western media has identified his as a “right-wing” government and it is using the same description to report his retention of power.
So far, 99% of the votes have been counted. The Likud (Likud-National Liberal Movement) of Netanyahu is set to lead a coalition, winning 65 of the 120 seats in Parliament.
What Netanyahu can Gantz couldn’t
Benny Gantz, a rival of Netanyahu, accepted the result on Wednesday. Gantz conceded he had failed to challenge the current government successfully. “We respect the decision of the people,” he told reporters.
The Blue and White Party of Gantz could not form the next government even if it had the numbers like that of Likud because a parliamentary majority would still be elusive for lack of coalition partners.
Several nationalist parties have, on the other hand, extended support to Netanyahu. The Likud is thus headed for a parliamentary majority.
Addressing a cheering crowd of supporters on Wednesday, Netanyahu hailed them for an “almost inconceivable achievement”. “I was very moved that the nation of Israel once again entrusted me for the fifth time, and with even greater trust,” he said.
On Thursday, the final results will be announced.
Netanyahu is going to record a fifth term in office. He will become Israel’s longest-serving prime minister.
Netanyahu had famously said during the campaign for this election that he would annex the Israeli settlement areas in the West Bank if he won a fifth term. “I think the whole rules of the game are changing because now Israel is clearly superimposing all of Greater Israel on all of historical Palestine,” said Palestine Liberation Organisation executive committee member Hanan Ashrawi.
“They have totally cancelled any agreements. They have nullified the two-state solution. They have totally negated the requirements of peace. They have totally violated international law. Now we need a whole new strategy to deal with this,” Ashrawi said to journalists.
Thorns in the throne
Despite some allegations of corruption against the 69-year-old prime minister, he gained an edge in Tuesday’s elections. By the end of this year, he could become the prime minister in Israel for the longest period of time.
What role the allegations against Netanyahu’s previous term would continue to haunt the new government would be a speculative discussion at this juncture. Analysts in Israel believe Netanyahu will urge his potential associates to remain in his government even if, or if at all, he is proved guilty.
It is believed Netanyahu would like to make nationalist, anti-Palestine leaders a part of his coalition government.