“This was a great victory for the right-wing camp, and first and foremost for us Likudnikim,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu following the third round of elections within the course of a year.
In his address to supporters, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the initial results from My onday’s election, the results of which are poised to make the Likud Party the largest in the next Knesset and on the cusp of forming a new government.
“Tomorrow, after we’ve got some sleep, we will meet [with right-wing leaders]to form a strong, stable government, a good national government for Israel,” Netanyahu said to supporters at the Expo Tel Aviv, which served as the party’s election headquarters.
“This was a great victory for the right-wing camp, and first and foremost a victory for us Likudnikim,” he said following the third round of elections within the course of a year.
Vowing to avoid any more elections, he said that it is “time to heal the rifts.”
“I intend to be the prime minister of every citizen of Israel, every right-wing voter, left-wing voter, Jews and non-Jews, every sector and every gender,” he insisted.
Meanwhile, Blue and White Party leader Benny Gantz expressed his disappointment with the results to his supporters.
“I share your feelings of disappointment and pain,” he said at his party’s election headquarters in Tel Aviv, adding that he hoped for a “different result.”
Updated exit polls reduced Netanyahu’s right-wing bloc from 60 seats to 59, while giving Gantz’s left-wing and Arab party bloc 55 seats. Nevertheless, Netanyahu’s Likud remained firmly in the lead with 36 to 37 seats to Blue and White’s 32 to 33 seats, and close to being able to form a 61-seat coalition government.
All the Israeli media focus on the election results.
Nahum Barnea in Yediot Ahronot writes: “The people have spoken. The people have spoken through the mouths of right-wing voters who in previous rounds of voting either stayed home or voted for Blue and White, and the people have spoken through centre-left bloc voters who chose to stay home. Based on the assumption that the tally is correct and does not change dramatically in the course of the night, the message from the polling stations is clear: the way out of the political impasse in Israel runs through Netanyahu. One can like that and one can hate it, but that is the way things are. The question is, how do we move forward. The dilemma is first and foremost Netanyahu’s: will he prefer to form a government that has a solid majority in the Knesset, or will he prefer a narrow right-wing-Haredi government? If avoiding trial is his top priority, he will opt for a narrow government. That was also the commitment he made to his voters in the course of the campaign. On the other hand, a narrow government will have a hard time passing legislation and it will be vulnerable to extortion by its own fringe elements. This does not guarantee stability.”
Here are some comments in the Israeli print media:
In Haaretz, Anshel Pfeffer calls the projected result a “stunning comeback”, he writes: “If Monday night’s exit polls are accurate or nearly accurate, half of the Israeli electorate voted for a man set to go on trial in two weeks for bribery, fraud and breach of trust. They did so fully knowing the charges against him, that he had used every dirty trick in the book, and told barefaced lies over and over again. They still voted for him because they trust his leadership more than they trust Israel’s legal system. Certainly more than they trust Benny Gantz.”
In the commentary in Israel Hayom, Amnon Lord writes, “a majority of the electorate has delivered an overwhelming vote of no-confidence to the judiciary that has been working against the prime minister. The indictments are not even viewed as crimes by the public, and big words like “bribery” and “breach of trust” are seen as having little backing by the facts. If the public were bothered by the crimes, Netanyahu would have been gone long ago.”
In The Jerusalem Post: ”The coalition may not yet be in the bag, but after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu‘s impressive showing in Monday’s election, it can now be said with complete certainty: the man is a political magician.
No one campaigns better than Netanyahu. No one. He has energy, charisma, and a once-in-a-generation ability to talk to his voters at eye level. He knows what buttons to press – Jewish and Zionist pride, fear of the Left – and he presses them better than anyone else.”