TEHRAN (Iran News) – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu emerged victorious Tuesday after the third election in Israel in a year despite a looming corruption trial, dismaying the Palestinians who were angered by his hardline campaign pledges.
Monday’s election left the right-winger in prime position to form a cabinet after similar votes in April and September proved inconclusive.
The central election committee said it had counted 90 percent of the vote, with breakdowns of the result in the media showing Netanyahu’s Likud party with 36 seats in Israel’s 120-member parliament.
That would mark the party’s best-ever result under Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving prime minister and its first to be indicted in office.
Netanyahu’s bloc is likely still one or two votes short of a majority.
Likud’s main challenger, the centrist Blue and White Party, was projected to win 32 seats.
The anti-Netanyahu camp was expected to control 54 to 55 seats.
While there remains no guarantee that Netanyahu can form a coalition, he hailed Monday’s election as a “giant” success.
Blue and White’s leader, ex-military chief Benny Gantz, admitted “disappointment” with the result.
But he stressed that regardless of the final tally Netanyahu is still due to go on trial on March 17 after being charged with bribery, fraud, and breach of trust.
“In two weeks, he will be in court,” Gantz said.
Netanyahu campaigned on his tough position toward the Palestinians and on expanding settlements in the occupied West Bank.
He also pledged to annex the Jordan Valley, a key part of the West Bank that Palestinians see as crucial for their future state if he won.
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said the exit polls showed that “settlement, annexation, and apartheid had won”.
“Netanyahu campaign was about the continuation of the occupation and conflict,” Erekat added on Twitter, saying the result would “force the people of the region to live by the sword: Continuation of violence, extremism, and chaos.”
“Israeli leaders are two sides of the same coin when it comes to dealing with the Palestinians,” Wasel Abu Yousef, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) executive committee, said.
He said that, despite their differences, Israel’s political heavyweights all agree to keep “denying the Palestinians’ right to self-determination [and] right of return, keeping the illegal settlements, and to never-ending the occupation of Al-Quds.”
AFP and Al Jazeera contributed to this story.
- source : Iran Daily, Irannews