Labour Member: Personal Win for Netanyahu? Political Fight Expected in Israel

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U.S. President Donald Trump, who Netanyahu featured on campaign billboards to highlight their close relationship, phoned to congratulate him on his re-election, the Israeli leader said, adding that he thanked his American ally for "tremendous support for Israel". Netanyahu has obviously made good electoral capital of these gifts - awaiting the offering expected to come wrapped up in the so-called peace plan that Trump is concocting - but their political fallout will now have to be dealt with, given that none of them serve Israel's real interests. The narrative of the Israeli right is that such trips and close connections prove that the Palestinian question is no inhibitor to Israel's wider integration into the Arab world.

The results, released by Israel's Central Elections Committee more than 48 hours after voting stations closed on Tuesday, gave Netanyahu's Likud party 36 seats, compared with 35 for the Blue and White party, headed by former Israeli military chief of staff Benny Gantz.

David Makovsky, director of the Project on Arab-Israel Relations at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told NPR Netanyahu would likely hold off on annexation as a favor to Trump, pending the peace proposal.

Netanyahu's campaign against Arab politicians, together with a new alliance with anti-Arab extremists and the passage a year ago of a contentious nation-state law that enshrined Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people alone, deepened calls for an election boycott in Arab communities.

The Likud said late on Wednesday that Netanyahu "will form a right-wing government and he is already in advanced negotiations with the national camp partners".

"This is a night of great victory".

At the sessions, which Rivlin said would be broadcast live "to ensure transparency", he will then pick a party leader to try to form a coalition, giving the candidate 28 days to do so, with a two-week extension if needed.

"I think we have a chance".

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Pyongyang said it had pushed for limited sanctions relief in exchange for dismantling its main nuclear facility at Yongbyon. Mr Choe was one of the three officials sanctioned by the USA in December over allegations of rights abuses.

Israel's attorney general has announced his intention to charge him with bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three cases.

The election was seen as a referendum on the veteran prime minister, who has built a reputation as guarantor of Israel's security and economic growth, but whose divisive right-wing populism and alleged corruption led to calls for change.

Netanyahu is set to become Israel's longest-ever serving leader after scoring an unprecedented fifth victory in Israel's election.

The results reflected his deft political skills, Israel's shift to the right and wide satisfaction with Netanyahu's achievements, but also the fact that many voters are fed up with him.

The Palestinians demand a full return to the borders that existed before the 1967 war when Israel seized the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.

Netanyahu no doubt expects the U.S.to acquiesce to his announcement, on the eve of the vote, that Israel will annex parts of the West Bank as well.

"He's been more of a status quo-maintenance politician for many years, now faced with some momentous decisions", Shapiro said. "They have said no to peace and yes to the occupation".

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