'I Will be The Next Israeli Prime Minister' - Netanyahu

Published September 18th, 2019 - 08:20 GMT
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (AFP)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (AFP)
Highlights
The comments could signal backing for unity from the combative Likud leader, as any left-center government would need the support of the Joint List without bringing in Likud or other right-wing or religious parties, according to preliminary results.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyhau promised early Wednesday morning that despite exit polls showing him unable to form a majority coalition for the second time in a year and his chief rival Blue and White scoring more Knesset seats than his Likud party, he would “go on serving the State of Israel and the people of Israel.”

As Likud party activists and supporters who remained until the early hours of the morning chanted “We don’t want unity,” the prime minister delivered a short speech to an almost empty hall at the Tel Aviv Expo Center at 3.30 a.m., saying Israel needs “a strong government, a stable government, a Zionist government, a government that is committed to Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people.”

Rejecting the idea of any coalition that counts the Joint List, an alliance of Arab-led parties, as a partner, Netanyahu said there cannot be a government that relies on “parties that praise and glorify blood-thirsty terrorists who kill our soldiers, our citizens, our children.”

The comments could signal backing for unity from the combative Likud leader, as any left-center government would need the support of the Joint List without bringing in Likud or other right-wing or religious parties, according to preliminary results.

Exit polls published by Israel’s three main television stations had a Likud-led coalition at 54-57 seats, together with Shas, United Torah Judaism and Yamina, at least four short of the 61 seats needed for a majority in the Knesset.

Despite receiving more seats than Likud in exit polls, the centrist Blue and White alliance also had no clear path to a government, likely a harbinger for several weeks of political wrangling and deadlock.

As a result, Yisrael Beytenu party leader Avigdor Liberman, who vowed to force a unity government if neither had a majority without him, has appeared to emerge as coalition kingmaker.

Netanyahu has previously thrown cold water on Liberman’s proposed national unity government of Yisrael Beytenu, Blue and White and Likud, while Blue and White has said it would join a coalition with Likud, but only if it deposes Netanyahu.

The prime minister, who has ruled the country for over 10 years, is fighting both for his political survival and hoping to find legislative support for immunity from looming prosecution in three separate graft cases.

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His previous attempt to form a government after elections April 9 failed after Yisrael Beytenu balked, leading to Tuesday’s unprecedented rerun vote.

Netanyahu said he had spoken to his prospective coalition partners and will soon launch negotiations to create a “strong Zionist government” and thwart the formation of an “anti-Zionist” government instead.

The premier, who has trumpeted his diplomatic prowess, particularly with US President Donald Trump, noted that the Trump administration will soon unveil its peace plan, and the negotiations over it will shape Israel for years, he said.

“We’re still waiting for the results. But one thing is clear, the State of Israel is at a historic turning point. We are facing immense opportunities, and immense challenges… including the existential threat from Iran,” said Netanyahu, who last week vowed to annex parts of the West Bank if he wins.

Israel needs “a strong government, a stable government, a Zionist government, a government that is committed to Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people,” he added.

“I said the election was hard. That’s not the word,” Netanyahu stressed, looking tired. “We faced a campaign that was so tilted against us by the biased media, so against us.”

“As you see, I am hoarse,” he said, attempting to be heard over a loud supporter. “But as you know, it’s better to lose your voice than to lose the country.”

Shortly after exit poll results were announced, The premier spoke by phone with Shas party head Aryeh Deri, UTJ leaders Yaakov Litzman and Moshe Gafni, and New Right party member Naftali Bennett, who ran in the elections with the right-wing Yamina alliance.

They all agreed to cooperate moving forward and Gafni reiterated UTJ’s pledge to recommend Netanyahu get the first crack at forming a government, according to Hebrew media reports.

Likud MKs and ministers on Tuesday evening reacted to exit polls showing it behind or on par with Blue and White by insisting that conclusions should not be drawn until the final results are in.

Likud officials said they had no intention of pushing Netanyahu aside, as rivals have insisted they do, and would explore other options for forming a coalition.

Blue and White had said it would be willing to form a unity government with Likud, but not if Netanyahu remained as its head.

This article has been adapted from its original source.          


© 2021 The Times of Israel. All rights reserved.

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