Israeli PM Concedes to Netanyahu

Stage is set for the most right-wing government the nation has ever had
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 3, 2022 2:00 PM CDT
Israeli PM Concedes to Netanyahu
Benjamin Netanyahu, leader of the Likud party, accompanied by his wife, Sara, waves to his supporters Wednesday at his party's headquarters in Jerusalem.   (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has won this week's Israeli election, final results showed Thursday, clearing the way for him to return to power. Prime Minister Yair Lapid congratulated Netanyahu and instructed his staff to prepare an organized transition of power, his office said. "The state of Israel comes before any political consideration," Lapid said. "I wish Netanyahu success, for the sake of the people of Israel and the state of Israel." Lapid, who has served as interim prime minister for the past four months, made the announcement just before the final results were released showing Netanyahu securing a parliamentary majority with his religious and ultranationalist allies, the AP reports.

Netanyahu is expected to form the country's most right-wing government in history when he takes power, likely in the coming weeks. Israel held its fifth election in four years on Tuesday, a protracted political crisis that saw voters divided over Netanyahu's fitness to serve while on trial for corruption. According to the final results, which still need to be certified in the coming days, Netanyahu and his ultranationalist and ultra-Orthodox allies captured 64 seats in Israel's 120-seat parliament, or Knesset. His opponents in the current coalition, led by Lapid, won 51 seats, with the remainder held by a small, unaffiliated Arab party.

Netanyahu's victory and his comfortable majority puts an end to Israel's political instability, for now. But it leaves Israelis split over their leadership and over the values that define their state: Jewish or democratic. Netanyahu's top partner in the government is expected to be the far-right Religious Zionism party, whose main candidate, Itamar Ben-Gvir, is a disciple of a racist anti-Arab rabbi. Ben-Gvir says he wants to end Palestinian autonomy in parts of the West Bank and until recently hung a photo in his home of Baruch Goldstein, an American Israeli who killed 29 Palestinians in a West Bank shooting attack in 1994. Ben-Gvir, who seeks to deport Arab legislators, says he wants to be put in charge of the national police force.

(More Israeli election stories.)

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