Netanyahu appears headed toward re-election in Israeli vote

Netanyahu appears headed toward re-election in Israeli vote

Israel faces what could be weeks of negotiations over composition of ruling coalition

Longtime Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is claiming victory in Israel’s election. Haaretz reported that his main rival Benny Getz – who also declared victory Tuesday night – wrote a note to members of his Blue and White Party early Wednesday saying, ‘it’s looking bleak but the results are not yet final.’ (Anwar Ammad/Amir Cohen/Reuters)
Benjamin Netanyahu appeared to be headed toward a historic fifth term as Israel’s prime minister on Wednesday, with close-to-complete unofficial election results giving his right-wing Likud and other nationalist and religious parties a solid majority in parliament.

With 97.4% of the vote counted, Likud and its traditional political allies were in command of a 65-55 majority in parliament. A couple of small parties were still teetering along the electoral threshold and fighting for their survival, so the final makeup of the next parliament has yet to be decided.

The outcome affirmed Israel’s continued tilt to the right and further dimmed hopes of a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Re-election will also give Netanyahu an important boost as he braces for the likelihood of criminal charges in a series of corruption scandals.

The long-time Israeli leader had fought a tight, ugly race against centrist ex-military chief Benny Gantz, whose nascent Blue and White party emerged as a viable alternative to Netanyahu’s decade in power. The near-final results showed it deadlocked with Likud at 35 seats. But most of its support seems to have come at the expense of the Labor and leftist Meretz parties, who both earned historic lows in Tuesday’s election.

together with his current Jewish ultra-Orthodox and nationalist partners, Netanyahu should have no trouble building a coalition government that has a majority in the 120-seat parliament.

With a victory, Netanyahu would capture a fourth consecutive term and fifth overall,

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