Netanyahu says he is on brink of ‘very big victory’ in Israel election

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JERUSALEM – Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed a “great vote of confidence” from voters on Wednesday, asserting that his right-wing coalition was on the verge of a landslide election victory.

With approximately 70% of ballots counted, Netanyahu’s conservative Likud party and its potential religious and far-right partners were on track to win a parliamentary majority in Israel’s sixth election in less than four years.

“We are on the verge of a very huge win,” a beaming Netanyahu told roaring supporters at the election headquarters of his Likud party, his voice raspy after weeks of campaigning.

Netanyahu’s coalition with far-right firebrand Itamar Ben-Gvir, whose Religious Zionism group is on track to become the third-largest party, has scared Palestinians and alarmed some allies, notably the US.

But Netanyahu, whose position looked to have improved after early exit polls showed him with a razor-thin majority, pledged to build a “stable, national administration” as the audience sang “Bibi, king of Israel.”

The previous prime minister, who established official diplomatic connections with the UAE and Bahrain in 2020, stated that a government led by him would behave responsibly, avoid “unnecessary excursions,” and “extend the circle of peace.”

Though the picture may change as the ballots are counted, the preliminary results show Netanyahu, who is on trial on corruption accusations he denies, leading a bloc of four parties to 67 of the Knesset’s 120 members.

Support for centrist Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s ruling coalition looked to have fallen after a campaign driven by concerns about security and the expense of living, however Lapid stopped short of declaring victory and said he would wait until the final tally.

Netanyahu, who has been in government for less than 18 months, has stated that he will wait for official findings.

Source: Reuters

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