Benjamin Netanyahu appears to have won a historic fifth term as Israel’s prime minister yesterday. Unofficial election results show his right-wing Likud and other nationalist and religious parties with a solid majority. Final results are expected today. But the country could face weeks of political negotiations over who will form the ruling coalition.
Long-time Israeli leader Netanyahu fought a tight race against centrist ex-military chief Benny Gantz, whose Blue and White party emerged as an alternative to Netanyahu’s Likud party.
The spotlight now falls on Israel’s president, Reuven Rivlin. He will consult with party representatives next week before picking the candidate with the best chance of assembling a majority in parliament. That choice seems likely to be Netanyahu.
A victory would mark a fourth consecutive term and fifth overall for Netanyahu, making him Israel’s longest-ever serving leader, surpassing founding father David Ben-Gurion.
“It’s a night of tremendous victory,” Netanyahu told supporters.
The 69-year-old Netanyahu has been the dominant force in Israeli politics for the past two decades. His campaign focused heavily on his friendship with President Donald Trump and his success in cultivating new allies, such as China, India, and Brazil.
Gantz, who had two other former military chiefs on his ticket, was able to challenge Netanyahu on security issues, normally the prime minister’s strength. Gantz also pointed out the prime minister’s alleged ethical lapses—since several corruption charges have been dogging 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. So Netanyahu’s biggest battles may be yet to come.
There is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. — Romans 13:1
(Likud party ballot papers and Benjamin Netanyahu’s campaign fliers lie on the ground after polls for Israel’s general elections closed in Tel Aviv, Israel, Wednesday, April 10, 2019. AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)