Israeli Central Elections Committee publishes final results

Israeli Central Elections Committee publishes final results

Palestinians say the United States is far too biased in favor of Israel and they have refused to work with Trump's peace team since the U.S. backed Israel's claim to the city of Jerusalem and moved the U.S. Embassy there. Little is known about the plan and whether it will be accepted by the Palestinians.

The results released by Israel's central election commission showed Likud capturing a total of 36 seats in the 120-seat Knesset, compared to 35 seats for its main rival, the centrist Blue and White party.

The president added an optimistic prediction for progress towards peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

Touted as the most consequential in the history of Israel, the legislative elections held on 9 April would seem to have fallen short of expectations, whether we look at them in terms of the turnout or the results.

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. In one of the president's only non-ceremonial roles, he asks that leader to form a government within 42 days.

Trump said in a tweet he congratulated Netanyahu on "a great and hard-fought win".

"Thank you, I wish you a happy holiday".

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Netanyahu's most immediate problem is to find a way to protect himself from the slew of criminal investigations and potential corruption charges that have been attached to his name in recent months.

The election was seen as a referendum on the veteran prime minister, who has built a reputation as guarantor of Israel's security and economic growth, but whose divisive right-wing populism and alleged corruption led to calls for change. But it is "Bibi" who is holding the most and the best cards needed to return to office and to become, in July, Israel's longest-serving leader, overtaking Ben Gurion. Voters blamed divisions between Arab factions which had united in the previous election, disillusionment, and a voting boycott campaign rooted in dismay at the 2018 "nation-state" law declaring that only Jews have the right of self-determination in Israel.

Netanyahu, speaking Tuesday night, declared it a "tremendous victory" for his party. Every ruling party faces challenges after a decade in power - voter fatigue is nearly inescapable - but Netanyahu's future has been clouded by allegations of corruption, charges he denies.

Trump almost always backs Netanyahu and has given him a series of wins: Moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, recognizing Israel's annexation of the Golan Heights, taking tough steps against Iran.

"He's been more of a status quo-maintenance politician for many years, now faced with some momentous decisions", Shapiro said.

The Palestinians demand a full return to the borders that existed before the 1967 war when Israel seized the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. Experiences such as these at a young age have caused them to believe that peace can only be achieved by force; something only the right-wing parties can achieve.

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