Monday, May 17, 2021

Netanyahu urges rival parties to join Likud-led coalition govt

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After claiming a ‘giant victory’ in the parliamentary election, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday pleaded with members of rival parties to put aside personal differences and partner with him to create a coalition government, warning of a fifth rapid-free election otherwise.

Netanyahu may have recognised that he may fall short of the votes he needs to build a viable coalition after a fourth indecisive election, according to The Times of Israel.

“A clear majority” of the newly-elected 120 Members of Knesset (MK) share his overall policies and thus he intended to spend the next few days talking with all MKs who might be willing to help build a stable government, said the Prime Minister.

The only alternative to a coalition under his leadership would be another national vote, he reiterated.

As ballots were being counted through the night, updated exit polls suggested neither Netanyahu nor any of his rivals had a clear path to a Knesset majority.

In the fourth election in two years, over 63 per cent votes have been counted as of Wednesday, but no clear winner has emerged so far, according to The Times of Israel.

Netanyahu’s right-wing religious bloc has a slim majority together with Yamina, but the results are expected to shift as more votes are counted.

Due to a similar deadlock in elections held a year ago, Netanyahu had persuaded his main challenger at the time, Blue and White leader Benny Gantz, to join him in an “emergency unity government.”

However, Netanyahu’s coalition deal with Gantz last December, when he failed to pass a state budget and the Knesset automatically dissolved for these elections. Since then, Gantz had vowed to never again partner with Netanyahu, reported The Times of Israel.

After an exhausting campaign, the 71-year-old premier, hailed his Likud party’s “extraordinary achievement” in winning a projected 30-plus seats in Tuesday’s vote. He then highlighted his outgoing government’s achievements — notably including a world-leading C-19 vaccination campaign, a series of peace agreements, and a firm stance against Iran’s aggression and nuclear weapons goals.

“With this majority, we have to build a stable Israeli government. I stretch out my hand to all MKs who believe in this path; I don’t rule anybody out. I expect all who believe in our principles to act in a similar fashion,” he said.

Netanyahu, who has held power since 2009, and also served as prime minister from 1996 to 1999, is also on trial in three corruption cases, with the evidentiary stage set to start on April 5.

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