Israel: Lapid congratulates Netanyahu on election victory

Caretaker PM instructs his entire office to prepare an organised transition of power



Reuters
Reuters

By AP

Published: Thu 3 Nov 2022, 8:59 PM

Last updated: Thu 3 Nov 2022, 9:35 PM

Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has won this week's Israeli election, final results showed Thursday, clearing the way for him to return to power.

Prime Minister Yair Lapid congratulated Netanyahu and instructed his staff to prepare an organised transition of power, his office said.

“The state of Israel comes before any political consideration," Lapid said. "I wish Netanyahu success, for the sake of the people of Israel and the state of Israel.”

Lapid, who has served as interim prime minister for the past four months, made the announcement just before the final results were released showing Netanyahu securing a parliamentary majority with his religious and ultranationalist allies.

Netanyahu expected to form the country’s most right-wing government in history when he takes power, likely in the coming weeks.

Israel held its fifth election in four years on Tuesday, a protracted political crisis that saw voters divided over Netanyahu's fitness to serve while on trial for corruption.

According to the final results, which still need to be certified in the coming days, Netanyahu and his ultranationalist and ultra-Orthodox allies captured 64 seats in Israel's 120-seat parliament, or Knesset. His opponents in the current coalition, led by Lapid, won 51 seats, with the remainder held by a small unaffiliated Arab party.

Netanyahu's victory and his comfortable majority puts an end to Israel's political instability, for now. But it leaves Israelis split over their leadership and over the values that define their state: Jewish or democratic.

Netanyahu's top partner in the government is expected to be the far-right Religious Zionism party, whose main candidate, Itamar Ben-Gvir.

The surging power of Israel's right wing came at the expense of its left flank. The Labor party, once a mainstream fixture of Israeli politics and which supports Palestinian statehood, was teetering just above the electoral threshold.

As vote counting neared an end, the anti-occupation Meretz appeared headed for political exile for the first time since it was founded in the 1990s.

Meretz's leader, Zehava Galon, conceded the party would not be in the next parliament. “This is a disaster for Meretz, a disaster for the country and yes, a disaster for me," she said.

After the results are formally announced, Israel's ceremonial president taps one candidate, who will be Netanyahu, to form a government.

He will then have four weeks to do so. Netanyahu is likely to wrap up talks within that time, but Religious Zionism is expected to drive a hard bargain for its support.


More news from