In tightly fought election, Netanyahu appears set to clinch fifth term in office, Washington Post
With the vast majority of votes counted in Israeli elections by Wednesday morning, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looked set to clinch a fifth term in office, outmaneuvering corruption charges and a strong challenger.
Netanyahu’s Next Coalition: Annexation for Immunity From Indictment, Haaretz
Aluf Benn writes, “The new Netanyahu government will have two main goals: Get rid of the indictments looming in his future, and annex the settlements to Israel, in coordination with the Trump administration.”
A look at what comes after Netanyahu’s seeming win in Israel, AP
There are still some votes to be counted as ballots of soldiers, diplomats, prisoners, hospital patients and some others who vote in unusual circumstances take a bit longer to tally. The full picture usually emerges within a day, in this case Thursday, but since a couple of parties are teetering along the electoral threshold and their political survival depends on every vote, legal appeals seem likely.
Defeated Gantz promises to bring hope despite ‘gloomy skies’, Times of Israel
Blue and White leader Benny Gantz, fresh from the center-left’s election loss, addressed supporters Wednesday morning and acknowledged that the “skies look gloomy,” but vowed to keep representing the “over a million citizens who turned to us for something different.”
Pompeo Refuses to Say What U.S. Would Do if Israel Annexes West Bank, New York Times
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo refused to tell Congress on Tuesday what the United States would do if the Israeli government tried to annex the West Bank, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently promised to do if re-elected. Mr. Pompeo’s silence on the issue is a break from the actions of previous administrations. Senior American officials have long and explicitly discouraged any formal attempt by Israel to extend sovereignty over some or all of the disputed territory of the West Bank and its population of 2.6 million Palestinians.
Jerusalem goes to Netanyahu, Tel Aviv goes to Gantz, The Jerusalem Post
Close to 25% of voters in the capital chose Likud, while UTJ came in a close second with 23% of the vote. Shas was the third biggest vote getter in Jerusalem with close to 14%, while Blue and White came in fourth with almost 12%. In Tel Aviv, Gantz saw an overwhelming return of close to 46% of the vote, while Netanyahu received 19%, Meretz got 9% and Labor took 8.5%.
With strong right-wing electoral showing, settler leaders declare death of Palestinian state, Times of Israel
“This morning we can say with certainty: In the face of all the campaigns and manipulations, the people of Israel chose the right. The people expressed their loyalty to the Land of Israel and chose in favor of applying Israeli sovereignty over Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley,” says the Yesha Council.
Live Updates: Right-wing Bloc in Clear Lead, Netanyahu Promises to Form Government ‘Swiftly’, Haaretz
Netanyahu makes celebratory speech: ‘This is a night of great victory’ — Likud and Kahol Lavan at a tie with 35 Knesset seats each — Gantz: It’s looking bleak, but electoral shifts could happen — Gesher, Zehut, Hayamin Hehadash fail to enter Knesset
AIPAC Targets Bernie Sanders in Facebook Ads Focused on Key Democratic Primary States, The Intercept
Sen. Bernie Sanders, who could be the first Jewish president of the United States two years from now, is currently the target of a pressure campaign on Facebook paid for by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the pro-Israel lobbying group known as AIPAC. The sponsored post urges Facebook users to add their names to an online petition telling Sanders that “America stands with Israel.”
Bernie Sanders Says He Hopes Netanyahu Loses, Haaretz
Sanders criticized Netanyahu for his vow to being annexing parts of the West Bank, telling NBC News that he “hopes he loses his election […] When election time comes in Israel, he always tries going even further to the right by appealing to racism within Israel, I think it’s unfortunate,” Sanders said following a town hall in Iowa Tuesday. “I’m not a great fan of his, and, frankly, I hope he loses his election.”
Airbnb Reverses Policy Banning Listings in Israeli Settlements in West Bank, Washington Post
Airbnb said Tuesday that it had reversed its decision to remove listings of properties located in Israeli settlements in the West Bank. In November, the company provoked an uproar in Israel and a flood of litigation when it said that it would eliminate about 200 listings in West Bank settlements that are “at the core of the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians.”
These Israelis Were Helping Arabs Make Good on Netanyahu’s Election Day Threat, Haaretz
Bedouin living in unrecognized villages have neither polls to vote in nor public transportation, so an Israeli NGO raised 75,000 shekels to help. “People have to walk 6 miles across fields to vote — so they don’t vote,” one supporter said.
Naming no preferred PM, Abbas says he hopes for peace after Israeli elections, Times of Israel
Abbas said he hoped the new government would understand “peace is in ours, theirs and the world’s interests […] All that we hope is there will be a just way, a correct way to reach peace,” he said. “We don’t need any government that doesn’t believe in peace.” Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations have been frozen since the US-brokered process collapsed in 2014 amid mutual accusations of blame.
12 Takeaways From Israel’s Looniest Election, Which Netanyahu (Probably) Won, The Forward
Chemi Shalev writes, “The overall appraisal of the results is in the eyes of the beholder. Those who view the Israeli public as inherently right wing can view Gantz’s achievements as spectacular. Those who maintain that in any normal country, a prime minister wallowing in a can of worms such as Netanyahu would have crashed and burned in elections will concede that public opinion is, indeed, in the right’s pocket, and could very we stay there forever.”
Netanyahu clings on: Key takeaways from Israel’s election, Washington Post
Ishaan Tharoor writes, “[O]f course, there’s the small matter of the close to 5 million Palestinians living under Israeli occupation who had no say in the election. Their political aspirations rarely feature in the Israeli conversation and won’t in the months to come.”
With Netanyahu Victory, It’s Time We Admit: Israel Has Become a Dictatorship, Haaretz
Bradley Burston writes, “If Benjamin Netanyahu manages to bribe his way to a ramshackle, immunity-from-prosecution coalition after his borderline showing in Tuesday’s election, we will all know one thing for sure: Israel has become a dictatorship. You need look no further than his Election Day obscenities of voter fraud and voter suppression. First to come to light was the operation in which Netanyahu’s Likud planted 1,200 hidden cameras in polling stations in Arab areas of Israel. Only in Arab areas.”
Win or Lose, Netanyahu’s Vision Will Likely Triumph, Foreign Policy
Michael Hirsh and Collum Lynch write, “For two decades, Israel’s prime minister has sought to destroy the prospects for a Palestinian state. Now he’s on the verge of succeeding […] and he has U.S. President Donald Trump largely to thank for it.”
Netanyahu’s Incitement Against Arabs in 2015 Proved a Big Success in Israel’s 2019 Election, Haaretz
Noa Landau writes, “The crisis of low voter turnout in the Arab sector has many fathers: Netanyahu’s systematic incitement, Gantz and Lapid who did nothing to stop his racist campaign and the nation-state law. But Arab representatives are not without blame”
Trump Is Begging for a Fight With Iran, Slate
Fred Kaplan writes, “President Donald Trump’s designation of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps as a ‘foreign terrorist organization’ is likely to spark more violence in the region — and may be intended to do so.”
How Israeli elections fit – and don’t quite match – global trends, The Interpreter
Merriden Varrall and Louis Raymond write, “Israel seems to reflect geopolitical trends as played out across the world in its rejection of moderate centrism, and increasing nationalism. Despite Blue and White’s popularity, and Netanyahu’s troubles with the corruption charges, Netanyahu is still likely to appeal to a society that feels it is under siege. However, in spite – or perhaps because of this – Israeli voters do not seem inclined to get on board the ‘out with the old, in with the new’ bandwagon.”
Israel Election: Poor Results Show It’s Time for Arab Parties to Do Some Soul-searching, Haaretz
Jack Khoury writes, “Whether or not the Ra’am-Balad party passes the threshold and makes it into Israel’s 21st Knesset, all the Arab parties, along with all those who claim to represent Arab society in Israel, need to do some soul-searching. For the 2015 election, the Arab parties merged to form the Joint List, and that united front reaped 13 seats in the 120-seat Knesset. But the alliance didn’t hold, for the simple reason that the four parties comprising it – Hadash, Ra’am, Ta’al and Balad – couldn’t find a way to cooperate in practice.”