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November 3, 2022 4:04 pm

Israel’s Lapid Congratulates Netanyahu on Election Victory as Final Votes Counted

avatar by Sharon Wrobel

Prime Minister Yair Lapid and his wife Lihi cast their vote in Tel Aviv. Credit: Amos Ben Gershom (GPO)

Prime Minister Yair Lapid on Thursday congratulated Benjamin Netanyahu on his election win as final voting results of Israel’s fifth round in less than four years put the longest-serving leader to once again form a governing coalition.

“The State of Israel is above any political consideration,” said Lapid. ”I wish Netanyahu success for the sake of the people of Israel and the State of Israel.”

Lapid spoke with Netanyahu to congratulate the opposition leader on his election victory and to inform him that he has instructed all branches of the Prime Minister’s Office to prepare an orderly transfer of power, according to a statement by Lapid’s office.

Netanyahu thanked the citizens of Israel for their “tremendous support.”

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“Together we brought a huge victory to the State of Israel,” he proclaimed.

The final result of vote counts from Tuesday’s national election showed Netanyahu’s Likud winning 32 seats clearing the way for the former premier, who is currently on trial in three corruption cases, to return to power backed by far-right parties. In conjunction with religious and far-right parties, the Netanyahu bloc is set to hold 64 seats in the 120-member parliament, a solid majority to form a governing coalition.

The final tally allotted Lapid’s Yesh Atid 24 seats in Israel’s parliament. Religious Zionism – an alliance of far-right parties made up of Bezalel Smotrich’s Religious Zionism, Otzma Yehudit party led by ultra-nationalist Itamar Ben Gvir and the anti-LGBT Noam Party – won 14 seats, representing the third largest party. Shas receives 11 seats and United Torah Judaism 7.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) on Thursday raised concern that Israel’s next coalition government led by Netanyahu is poised to appoint Otzma Yehudit’s Ben Gvir and Religious Zionist’s Smotrich as ministers in the 25th Knesset.

“Both have a long history of engaging in racist, anti-Arab, homophobic and other hateful behavior,” the ADL warned in a statement. “In particular, we are concerned about several of Ben-Gvir’s stated policy intentions, including to set up a government office to “encourage” the emigration of Arab citizens of Israel  – whom his party refers to as “enemies of Israel.”

Prior to Tuesday’s election, Ben Gvir announced that he will demand to be appointed public security minister with authority over the police, during coalition negotiations, should Netanyahu win the elections.

“We believe that including these far-right individuals and parties in an Israeli government would run counter to Israel’s founding principles, and impact its standing, even among its strongest supporters,” the ADL stated.

US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides called Netanyahu to congratulate him on his victory telling him that he is looking “forward to working together to maintain the unbreakable bond,” between the two countries.

Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban hailed Netanyahu’s return to power a “great victory.”

“Hard times require strong leaders,” Orban tweeted. “Welcome back!”

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