Netanyahu's main rival party admits defeat in Israeli elections

Netanyahu's main rival party admits defeat in Israeli elections”

Netanyahu said that, in the telephone call, he also thanked Trump for designating Iran's elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organisation on Monday. "We will show Israelis how their lives could look like with leadership that cares about them", he said, hinting at the long list of corruption cases in which Netanyahu and his close associate have been entangled.

"The 2020 campaign began today", he 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.

"It is a night of colossal victory", the 69-year-old Netanyahu told cheering supporters in a late-night speech at Likud headquarters in Tel Aviv after Tuesday's vote.

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. That could be scuppered if criminal charges are filed and force his removal.

Israel's 21 percent Arab minority saw its parties lose seats. "We are a resilient people and we will persist and forge alliances with like-minded and responsible global actors to create a counterbalance to the risky and reckless agenda and its adherence among other racist and fundamentalist governments, particularly in Israel".

"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.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu waves to his supporters after polls for Israel's general elections closed in Tel Aviv, Israel, April 10, 2019.

Trump had welcomed Netanyahu to the White House just two weeks before the election to offer his latest landmark gesture of support - USA recognition of Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights, captured from Syria in 1967.

Pompeo repeatedly declined to weigh in on Netanyahu's election-eve vow to annex Jewish settlements built in the Israeli-occupied West Bank - a move that would seek to formalize Israeli control over parts of the supposedly future Palestinian state.

This pre-election promise from Netanyahu was widely seen as an attempt to draw right-wing votes rather than a change of policy.

Commenting on the election, Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said: "Israelis have voted to preserve the status quo".

"Everybody said you can't have peace in the Middle East with Israel and Palestinians". Trump moved the United States embassy to Jerusalem last May, further angering Palestinians. "They have said no to peace and yes to the occupation".

In Lebanon, Netanyahu's win was described as the victory of the extreme right over the soft-right, while both ignore the Palestinian conflict all together.

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