Israel’s Election, Through the Eyes of a Young Palestinian

Benjamin Netanyahu

But they divided the centre-left in Israel, so it was easier for Netanyahu to defeat them, because the Labour Party was left alone, isolated, the bloc of left [-wing] Meretz too, and then this Blue and White tried to bring votes from the right-wing, having some personalities like Moshe Ya'alon, the former minister of Defence who came from the right-wing, but it didn't succeed.

Tel Aviv Stock Exchange main indexes were up almost 1 percent in late trading on Wednesday, displaying confidence in a veteran prime minister who has overseen a humming economy and blunted various security threats, including from Syria.

Blue and White won 35 seats in the 120-seat Knesset, or parliament, against the 36 won by Likud. Japan has continued to identify its differences with the USA on key Middle East issues, from Israel to Iran (it prefers engagement with Tehran to isolation, the Trump administration's default policy).

Netanyahu, speaking Tuesday night, declared it a "tremendous victory" for his party.

Final results from this week's Israeli election published today left Benjamin Netanyahu on course to remain prime minister although there were reports of pressure on him not to form another narrow right-wing coalition.

During the campaign, the rival parties accused each other of corruption, fostering bigotry and being soft on security. While his coalition partners are willing to support him now because of his command of Israel's right-wing constituency, that support could be imperilled if charges of bribery or breach of trust are handed down by Israel's Attorney General, Avichai Mandelblit.

"But our achievement can not be belittled: we are the biggest party in Israel", he said of the party, which was formed only two months before the election.

"Trump warmly congratulated (me) and the Israeli people", Netanyahu tweeted.

By recognizing the Golan Heights as Israeli, Trump not only disregards global law (UN Security Council Resolution 242 forbids "the acquisition of territory by war"), but he risks emboldening Israel in its ongoing occupation of the West Bank.

As the New York Times noted, "Applying sovereignty to Israeli settlements on West Bank land that the Palestinians demand for a future state, presumably along with the roads and infrastructure tethering those places to the rest of Israel, would leave the Palestinians at best with an archipelago of disconnected territory".

Still, Mr. Trump is widely seen as moving well beyond bounds set by previous administrations - which have taken steps to enhance the chances of favored Israeli prime minister candidates. The long-awaited peace plan prepared by his chief Middle East envoy, his son-in-law Jared Kushner, is now dead on arrival. This would firm up Israel's unilateral hold on them and dig the country into a position that could preclude any Palestinian state.

But even if he tries, it's unclear whether Netanyahu would have the votes to succeed. In fact, one area where the move does seem certain to have consequences is the potential damage to the Israel-Palestine peace process. If it includes Israeli concessions to the Palestinians, Netanyahu's probable far-right coalition allies will probably object.

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