Tag: Benny Gantz
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu holds an edge over his main rival in Israel’s third election in under a year, exit polls show.
- Israel has weathered two inconclusive elections in one year
- Mr Netanyahu is Israel’s longest-serving leader
- His rival Benny Gantz stopped short of conceding defeat
But it is still unclear if he can clinch the parliamentary majority needed to claim victory.
Exit polls on Israel’s main TV channels showed Mr Netanyahu and his nationalist and religious allies winning 59 seats, two short of a parliamentary majority.
The centre-left bloc, led by former military chief Benny Gantz, was projected to win 54 to 55 seats.
If the official results from Monday’s election match the exit polls, Mr Netanyahu could find himself stuck in continued political deadlock ahead of his trial on corruption charges, set to begin March 17.
Earlier projections had forecast 60 seats for Mr Netanyahu and his allies, putting him on the cusp of victory leading him to claim victory.
“We won thanks to our belief in our path and thanks to the people of Israel,” he said earlier in the night.
The actual results are expected later today.
A win for Mr Netanyahu, 70, after inconclusive ballots in April and September, would be testimony to the political durability of Israel’s longest-serving leader, who fought the latest campaign under the shadow of a looming corruption trial.
It would also pave the way for him to make good on his pledge to annex Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank under a controversial peace plan presented by US President Donald Trump.
Palestinians have rejected the proposal, saying it kills their dream of establishing a viable state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, territory Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war.
Mr Netanyahu has been a caretaker prime minister for more than a year as a divided country has weathered two inconclusive votes and prolonged political paralysis.
With pre-election opinion polls forecasting another deadlock, Mr Netanyahu had sought a late surge in support to score a parliamentary majority along with other nationalist parties for a fourth consecutive term in office, and fifth overall.
Mr Gantz pledged to press ahead, but did not immediately concede defeat.
“Thank you to the thousands of activists and more than million voters who chose Blue and White,” Mr Gantz said on Twitter, referring to his party.
“I will continue to fight for the right path, for you.”
More to come.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he will ask Parliament to protect him from prosecution in the three graft cases he faces, a politically risky move that could delay criminal proceedings against him for months.
- A trial cannot get under way once an immunity request is made
- If immunity is granted, Israel’s Supreme Court is empowered to review the decision
- Mr Netanyahu failed to assemble a governing majority in back-to-back elections last year
Mr Netanyahu was indicted in November on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust over allegations he granted state favours worth hundreds of millions of dollars to Israeli media barons in return for gifts and favourable coverage.
He denied any wrongdoing, saying he was the victim of a witch hunt by the left and the media who were seeking to oust a popular right-wing leader.
“In order to continue to lead Israel to great achievements, I intend to approach the speaker of the Knesset in accordance with chapter 4C of the law, in order to fulfil my right, my duty and my mission to continue to serve you for the future of Israel,” Mr Netanyahu said during a televised announcement on Wednesday.
After failing to assemble a governing majority following back-to-back elections last year, Mr Netanyahu will get a third shot at remaining in office in March.
Normally, a request for immunity would need to be approved by the Parliament’s House Committee and then submitted to a full vote. But the House Committee doesn’t exist because a government was never formed after September’s election.
The announcement essentially turns the upcoming election into a referendum on whether Mr Netanyahu should be granted immunity and remain in office, or step down and stand trial.
‘Everyone is equal before the law’
A trial cannot get under way once an immunity request is made.
Mr Netanyahu announced the move in a speech on live television just four hours before a deadline for an application was to expire.
Is Netanyahu’s time running out?
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is at the top of his political game. But all of that could be undone by police, who have been investigating two corruption cases on the veteran leader.
Had Mr Netanyahu not filed the request by Wednesday’s deadline, the indictment against him could have been submitted to a court as early as Sunday (January 5), setting proceedings in motion.
Responding to Mr Netanyahu’s speech, his main rival, Benny Gantz, a former armed forces chief who heads the centrist Blue and White party, said the Prime Minister was “jeopardizing the civic principle upon which we were all educated — that everyone is equal before the law”.
“I never imagined that I would see the day that a prime minister wouldn’t care about the future of the state of Israel, rather only about himself and his individual fate,” he said.
“Today it’s clear what we’re fighting for. Netanyahu knows he’s guilty.”
If immunity is ultimately granted — entitling Mr Netanyahu to avoid standing trial as long as he is a Member of Parliament — Israel’s Supreme Court is empowered to review the decision and strike it down.
A recent poll indicated that a majority of Israelis opposed giving him immunity.