Tuesday, 30 May 2023

Israels Yair Lapid congratulates Benjamin Netanyahu on election victory

Israels Yair Lapid congratulates Benjamin Netanyahu on election victory


Israels Yair Lapid congratulates Benjamin Netanyahu on election victory

Israel's prime minister, Yair Lapid, has called Benjamin Netanyahu to offer his congratulations on the opposition leader's election win following the conclusion of vote counting in this week's election.

Netanyahu, the chair of the conservative Likud party and Israel's longest-serving prime minister, is expected to begin an unprecedented third term as PM after holding coalition negotiations with his religious and far-right allies on forming a government.

The bloc, which includes the extremist Religious Zionist party and two ultra-Orthodox parties, won a comfortable majority in Tuesday's election, the country's fifth in four years.

"The state of Israel comes before any political consideration. I wish Netanyahu success, for the sake of the people of Israel and the state of Israel," Lapid said in a statement, adding that the prime minister had instructed his office to prepare for an "organised transition of power".

Netanyahu was removed from office last summer by a diverse coalition which formed a so-called "government of change". Infighting led to its downfall a year later, sending a frustrated electorate back to the voting booths.

As with the four other elections since 2019, this week's poll was another referendum on Netanyahu's suitability to govern: the 73-year-old is on trial for corruption charges, which he denies.

Polling consistently predicted that the pro- and anti-Netanyahu blocs would yet again end in deadlock, with the camps on about 60 seats each in the 120-seat Knesset. Exit polls on Tuesday night, however, suggested that the longtime leader and his allies would scrape a majority with 61, and their lead had extended to a comfortable 64 seats by the time the vote counting finished on Thursday afternoon. Official results will be released by next Wednesday.

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