Published: Sun, April 14, 2019
Global Media | By Garry Long

Does Netanyahu's Win Maintain Status Quo Or Push Israel Further Right?

Does Netanyahu's Win Maintain Status Quo Or Push Israel Further Right?

Rivlin seems certain to entrust the task of forming a government to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is likely to be able to build a coalition of up to 65 seats comprising Likud (36 seats), the ultra-Orthodox Shas (eight seats), United Torah Judaism (seven), Union of Right-Wing Parties (five), Kulanu (four), and, maybe, Yisrael Beytenu (five).

Four top US Democratic lawmakers known for their support of Israel on Friday warned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to annex the West Bank, amid signs President Donald Trump is ending Washington's longstanding push for a Palestinian state. So he's looking to the right-wing parties in his outgoing government and he'll have to give their leaders cabinet ministries and assure them he will look out for their issues. That vacuum has been filled by the Blue and White alliance, a coalition that purports to represent all views on the political spectrum - the name is from the Israeli flag, which is blue and white - that is headed by Benny Ganz, the former chief of general staff of the Israeli Armed Forces.

Hanan Ashrawia-a member of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)-pointed to Netanyahu's annexation threat as one of many reasons to be alarmed by the prime minister's reelection and the victory of the Israeli right.

Although the ballot count is complete, commission head Hanan Melzer said the results were not official and still subject to review.

Gantz, who entered politics last December, said that the fact that the newly-formed and little-known party gained 35 seats shows that the Israeli public is eager to replace Netanyahu's regime. Rivlin will then pick the candidate he believes has the best chance of assembling a parliamentary majority, and ask that leader to form a government within 42 days.

Intensive coalition negotiations could drag on for days or even weeks. "Assuming the immunity attempt fails, which I think it will, and assuming Mandelblit goes through with [indictments], which I think he will as well, there's the saga of, 'Will Netanyahu go to trial as a serving Prime Minister?'" says Pfeffer.

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"We will stand together", Gantz said, according to the Jerusalem Post.

The statement signaled a warning from the party's most pro-Israel wing that retreating from the two-state solution would be catastrophic for efforts to maintain close ties between Democrats and Israel.

The vote had been expected to be close as Netanyahu faced potential corruption charges.

When Gantz and his party conceded the election this week, they said they would fight Netanyahu in parliament and, one party leader said, "in 2020".

"It is a night of colossal victory", the 69-year-old Netanyahu told cheering supporters in a late-night speech at Likud headquarters in Tel Aviv after Tuesday's vote.

Netanyahu has been premier for a total of more than 13 years, but now faces the prospect of becoming the first sitting prime minister to be indicted.

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