Gantz concedes; Israeli PM Netanyahu secures 5th term

Benjamin Netanyahu

Enlarge Image Benjamin Netanyahu Getty Images

"West Bank annexation is a topic that is now being debated in Israel, and was endorsed right before the election by Prime Minister Netanyahu himself as an electoral pledge", it said.

Netanyahu secured a clear path to re-election on Wednesday, and a record fifth term in office, with religious-rightist parties set to hand him a parliamentary majority, despite a close contest against his main centrist challenger.

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.

With more than 99 percent of votes counted-ballots cast by soldiers at military bases will be tallied over the next two days-Netanyahu's conservative Likud party looked likely to muster enough support to control 65 of the Knesset's 120 seats and be named to head the next coalition government.

In this election, the stakes for Israel and the Jewish people worldwide were enormous and that you prevailed means that the State of Israel and the people of Israel are stronger than ever.

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. Trump moved the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem last May, further angering Palestinians.

All of the right-wing and ultra-Orthodox parties have said they will recommend Netanyahu, with the exception of Yisrael Beytenu's Avigdor Liberman who has said he will not recommend Gantz but has not yet committed to naming Netanyahu. "I think we have now a better chance with Bibi having won", he said, referring to Netanyahu, who leads the conservative Likud party, by his nickname.

Trump is expected to release his administration's long-awaited Middle East peace plan after the election. "He's been a great ally and he's a friend".

Annexation of the West Bank would likely be the death knell to any peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. We are talking about no less than 400 settlements (housing at least 400,000 settlers), all deemed illegal under global law, as they violate the law of occupation. Palestinians seek a state there and in the Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Netanyahu no doubt expects the U.S.to acquiesce to his announcement, on the eve of the vote, that Israel will annex parts of the West Bank as well.

In addition, Netanyahu himself, in his eagerness to rally votes, has made promises that he will find hard to keep without also endangering national interests.

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