How Israel’s Netanyahu Uses Fear and Loathing to Win Elections

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His main rival Benny Gantz's centrist Blue and White faction was confirmed at 35 seats, 26.11% of ballots.

The election was seen as a referendum on the veteran prime minister, who has built a reputation as guarantor of Israel's security and economic growth, but whose divisive right-wing populism and alleged corruption led to calls for change. Already the president is moving to exploit fissures developing in a reliably pro-Israel Congress over the president's brand of favoritism, even as divisions deepen in the U.S. Jewish community over Mr. Trump's combination of Netanyahu favoritism and antagonism toward Palestinians.

Netanyahu, speaking Tuesday night, declared it a "tremendous victory" for his party.

Confetti falls as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara stand on stage after Netanyahu spoke following the announcement of exit polls in Israel's parliamentary election at the party headquarters in Tel Aviv, Israel on April 10, 2019. That could be scuppered if criminal charges are filed and force his removal.

Overall, the right-wing bloc includes 65 seats.

The statement reiterated that "two states for two peoples, negotiated directly by the two sides, with mutually agreed upon land swaps, is the best option to achieve a Jewish, democratic, secure Israel living side-by-side with a democratic, de-militarized Palestinian state".

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"But our achievement can not be belittled: we are the biggest party in Israel", he said of the party, which was formed only two months before the election.

By recognizing the Golan Heights as Israeli, Trump not only disregards global law (UN Security Council Resolution 242 forbids "the acquisition of territory by war"), but he risks emboldening Israel in its ongoing occupation of the West Bank.

Trump is expected to release his administration's long-awaited Middle East peace plan after the election. Palestinians seek a state there and in the Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Annexation of the West Bank would likely be the death knell to any peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. This means that Netanyahu has more allies on the right of the political spectrum with which he can form a coalition.

But even if he tries, it's unclear whether Netanyahu would have the votes to succeed. Trump's move has rightly received condemnation from the global community, and states must continue to do all they can to ensure this potentially destabilizing transformation of the peace process is prevented.

Then just last week came the State Department's designation of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization - a first-ever such designation of a military division of a foreign state (as opposed to a non-state group) and one Mr. Netanyahu had unsuccessfully sought for years over the objections of the US intelligence community and the Pentagon.

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