JERUSALEM, Nov 3 (Reuters) – Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid on Thursday congratulated Benjamin Netanyahu on his election victory, with final results confirming the former prime minister’s triumphant return to lead a staunchly right-wing alliance.
Netanyahu’s victory should end an unprecedented stalemate in Israel after five elections in less than four years.
This time Netanyahu, the dominant Israeli politician of his generation, won a clear parliamentary majority, bolstered by ultra-nationalist and religious parties.
Tuesday’s poll ousted centrist Lapid and his rare alliance of conservatives, liberals and Arab politicians who, in more than 18 months in power, have made diplomatic inroads with Turkey and Lebanon and kept the economy in check. walking.
With the conflict with the Palestinians escalating and Jewish-Arab tensions escalating within Israel, Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud and related parties won 64 of the 120 seats in the Knesset.
Netanyahu has yet to be formally tasked by the president with forming a government, a process that could take weeks.
“The time has come to impose order here. The time has come for there to be an owner,” tweeted Itamar Ben-Gvir of the far-right Religious Zionism party, likely senior Likud partner.
He was responding to a stabbing reported by Jerusalem police. In the West Bank, soldiers killed an Islamic Jihad militant and a 45-year-old man in a separate incident, medics said. Asked about this latest death, the army said it opened fire when Palestinians attacked them with rocks and Molotov cocktails.
Later that evening, airstrike sirens went off in southern Israel after militants in Gaza fired a rocket that was apparently intercepted by missile defenses, the military said.
A West Bank settler and former member of Kach, a Jewish militant group on Israeli and American terrorist watch lists, Ben-Gvir wants to become police minister.
Israeli media, citing political sources, said the new government could be formed by the middle of the month. Previous coalitions in recent years have had narrower parliamentary majorities that have made them vulnerable to no-confidence motions.
While talks on forming the coalition have yet to officially begin, it was still unclear what position Ben-Gvir might occupy in a future government. Since the election, he and Netanyahu have pledged to serve all citizens.
But Ben-Gvir’s ascendancy has caused concern among the 21% Arab minority and centre-left Jews – and particularly among Palestinians whose state-building talks are sponsored by the US. United with Israel failed in 2014.
While Washington has publicly reserved its judgment pending the formation of the new Israeli coalition, a spokesman for the US State Department on Wednesday underlined the “common values” of the countries.
“We hope that all Israeli government officials will continue to share the values of an open and democratic society, including tolerance and respect for all in civil society, especially minority groups,” the spokesperson said. .
US Ambassador to Israel Thomas Nides said he spoke with Netanyahu and told him he was looking forward to “working together to keep the bond unbreakable.”
Additional reporting by Ali Sawafta and Nidal-al-Mughrabi; Written by Dan Williams Editing by Tomasz Janowski, Jon Boyle and Howard Goller
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