| 19 April 2024, Friday |

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

The former prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, predicted that his right-wing party will win the election with a landslide on Wednesday, claiming that voters had given him a “great vote of confidence.”

After Israel’s fifth election in less than four years, with nearly 70% of the votes counted, Netanyahu’s conservative Likud and its potential far-right and religious partners were on track to hold a majority in parliament.

“We are on the brink of a very big victory,” a smiling Netanyahu told cheering supporters at his Likud party election headquarters, his voice hoarse from weeks of campaigning.

Netanyahu’s alliance with far-right firebrand Itamar Ben-Gvir, whose Religious Zionism bloc is on course to become the third-largest party, has alarmed Palestinians and drawn concern among some allies, including the United States.

But Netanyahu, whose position appeared to have strengthened after early exit polls showed him with only a razor-thin majority, vowed to form a “stable, national government,” as the crowd interrupted him singing “Bibi, king of Israel.”

The former premier, who in 2020 forged formal diplomatic ties with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, said a government under his leadership would act responsibly, avoid “unnecessary adventures” and “expand the circle of peace”.

Though the landscape could shift as the ballot count trickles in, the partial tally showed Netanyahu, who is on trial on corruption charges he denies, leading a bloc of four parties taking 67 of the Knesset’s 120 seats.

After a campaign dominated by worries over security and the cost of living, support for centrist Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s ruling coalition appeared to have collapsed although Lapid stopped short of conceding victory and said he would wait until the final count.

  • Reuters