04/11/2019, 10.17
ISRAEL - PALESTINE
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Gantz concedes defeat. Netanyahu ready for his fifth government

The leader of the center alliance respects "the decision of the people" and congratulates the outgoing premier. The ally and former finance minister Lapid promises to make "life bitter for the next" executive. Trump: "I'm with him". The disenchantment of the Arab front that deserted the polls.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Benny Gantz, the main challenger of the outgoing Prime Minister, has conceded defeat in the April 9 parliamentary elections and congratulated Benjamin Netanyahu for  his fifth mandate to lead Israel.

"We respect the decision of the people," the ex-general declared in the aftermath of the vote, recognizing the failure of the Blue White center coalition with the objective of undermining Likud's domination and opening a new page in the country's political and social history.

Gantz's ally, and former Finance Minister, Yair Lapid assured that he wanted to "make life bitter for the [next] Netanyahu government".

Meanwhile, "King Bibi" - as he is called by his supporters - is preparing to form the new government, with a even more marked drift to the right than the previous executive. While obtaining a similar number of seats to centrists, the Likud-led coalition should reach a total of 65 seats (out of 120) in the Knesset (the Israeli Parliament), thanks to the support of some right-wing parties.

The official results should be released tomorrow. Analysts and experts agree that President Reuven Rivlin will entrust Netanyahu the mandate to form a government, which will take place around a tense negotiating table - which could last days, if not weeks - with future government allies.

Turning to the cheering crowd of his supporters, and accompanied by his wife Sara, Netanyahu said he will head a "right-wing" executive, but that he intends to be "the Prime Minister of all" at the same time. However, an investigation by the judiciary over corruption and fraud with uncertain implications hangs over his future.

The first leader to congratulate Bibi on victory at the polls was US president Donald Trump, who in the last weeks of the election campaign provided more than one assist to his Middle Eastern ally [for example recognition of the Israeli claim over the Golan Heights]. "The United States - said the White House tenant - is with him and with the people of Israel to the end!" Congratulations also came from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Italian Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini and Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.

In the face of the success of the Israeli right and of the Likud, the progressive disappearance of leftist formations and Arab representation within the Parliament must also be underlined. Many observers report the disaffection of a significant part of the country: Israeli Arabs represent in fact just under 20% of the population and 17% of the total electorate. This disaffection is the result of numerous factors: from internal divisions to the nation-state law [Jewish], passing through attacks during the electoral campaign. Netanyahu has repeatedly attacked the Arab front in recent weeks, while rival Benny Gantz has repeatedly ruled out post-voting alliances to avoid losing support.

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