Israel’s Netanyahu Set to Win Fifth Term After Vow to Annex West Bank

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appears to be on the verge of securing a record fifth term in office as votes continue to be counted from Tuesday’s election in Israel. Last night, Netanyahu and his top challenger, ex-military chief Benny Gantz, both claimed victory in the tight race. With most of the votes counted, Netanyahu’s Likud party and Gantz’s newly formed Blue and White party both secured 35 seats in the Knesset, but Netanyahu has a clearer path to forming a coalition government with the help of his right-wing allies. On Tuesday night, Netanyahu addressed supporters, who repeatedly chanted “Bibi, king of Israel.”

PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: [translated] It is a night of colossal victory. Colossal. I am very moved that the people of Israel put their trust in me again, for the fifth time — a greater trust, even. I intend to quickly finish the work in order to form a national stable government.

AMY GOODMAN: Tuesday’s election came just days after Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to annex Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank in defiance of international law, and a week after Netanyahu thanked President Trump for recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights. Netanyahu ran for re-election despite facing possible criminal indictments in three corruption cases. Netanyahu’s chief rival was Benny Gantz, a former chief of staff of Israel Defense Forces. On Tuesday, he, too, claimed victory.

BENNY GANTZ: It’s a historic event, actually, never happened in Israel before. And we’ll take it from here. It’s just the first night. We’ll see the real results. I’m sure and confident that we can do it. We will continue. Thank you very much.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Many Palestinians living in Israel boycotted Tuesday’s election. Netayahu’s Likud party was also accused of voter intimidation after placing 1,200 hidden cameras at polling stations in Arab neighborhoods inside Israel. Palestinian chief negotiator…

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