Israeli Prime Minister Lapid congratulated Netanyahu on his victory in the elections

Israeli Prime Minister Lapid congratulated Netanyahu on his victory in the elections

Israeli Prime Minister Lapid congratulated Netanyahu on his victory in the elections

JERUSALEM, Reuters – Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid congratulated Benjamin Netanyahu on his election victory on Thursday, as final results confirmed the former prime minister’s triumphant return at the head of a right-wing alliance.

Netanyahu’s victory should end Israel’s unprecedented deadlock after five elections in less than four years.

This time, Netanyahu, the dominant Israeli politician of his generation, won a clear parliamentary majority with support from ultra-nationalist and religious parties.

Tuesday’s vote went in favor of the centrist Lapid and his rare alliance of conservatives, liberals and Arab politicians, who during his 18 months in power made diplomatic inroads with Turkey and Lebanon and kept the economy afloat.

As the conflict with the Palestinians escalated anew and Jewish-Arab tensions boiled over inside Israel, Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud and allied parties won 64 of the 120 Knesset seats.

Netanyahu has yet to be formally tasked by the president to form a government, a process that could take weeks.

“The time has come to establish order here. It’s time for a host,” tweeted Itamar Ben-Gvir of the far-right Religious Zionism party, a likely senior Likud partner.

He was responding to a stabbing reported by Jerusalem police. Soldiers killed an Islamic Jihad militant and a 45-year-old man in a separate incident in the West Bank, doctors said. Asked about the latter’s death, the army said it opened fire when Palestinians attacked them with stones and petrol bombs.

Later in the evening, air raid sirens sounded in southern Israel after Gaza militants fired a rocket that appeared to have been intercepted by anti-missile defenses, the military said.

Ben-Gvir, a resident of the West Bank and a former member of the Jewish group Kach, which is on the Israeli and US terror watch lists, wants to become police minister.

The Israeli mass media, citing political sources, say that the new government can hold until the middle of the month. Previous coalitions have had narrower parliamentary majorities in recent years, making them vulnerable to no-confidence votes.

Since coalition-building talks have not yet officially begun, it was not yet clear what position Ben-Gvir might have in the future government. Since the election, both he and Netanyahu have pledged to serve all citizens.

But Ben-Gvir’s rise has caused alarm among the 21% Arab minority and center-left Jews, and especially among Palestinians whose US-sponsored statehood talks with Israel broke down in 2014.

While Washington is publicly reserving judgment pending the formation of a new Israeli coalition, a US State Department spokesman on Wednesday emphasized the countries’ “shared values.”

“We hope that all Israeli government officials will continue to share the values ​​of an open, democratic society, including tolerance and respect for all in civil society, especially minority groups,” the spokesman said.

US Ambassador to Israel Thomas Nides said he had spoken with Netanyahu and said he looked forward to “working together to maintain an unbreakable bond.”

Additional reporting by Ali Sawafta and Nidal-al-Mughrabi; Written by Dan Williams Editing by Tomasz Janowski, John Boyle and Howard Goller

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