Bibi Prevails: President Obama Loses His Bid to Defeat a U.S. Ally

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It isn’t Mr. Obama’s habit to admit error, or to be gracious to his opponents, but it would serve the interests of both nations if he were.

The Israeli election that looked like a cliffhanger when the polls closed on Tuesday had turned into a decisive victory for Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud Party by Wednesday morning. With at least 29 seats in the parliament compared to 24 for the main center-left party, Israel’s Prime Minister should be able to put together a ruling coalition of center-right parties that is more manageable than his last majority.

“President Obama might also reflect on his own contribution to Mr. Netanyahu’s victory. Israelis surrounded by hostile nations sworn to their destruction are most likely to take risks for peace when they feel secure in America’s support.”

The victory is a remarkable personal triumph for Mr. Netanyahu, who is now Israel’s second longest-serving Prime Minister after David Ben-Gurion. He gambled that he could assemble a more stable center-right coalition, as well as by giving a high-stakes speech to the U.S. Congress on Iran two weeks before the election, and in the final days stressing above all the security themes that must be Israel’s abiding concern.

“While the results may dismay Mr. Netanyahu’s detractors abroad, especially in the White House, they surely reflect Israel’s security consensus.”

Mr. Netanyahu and Likud were trailing in the polls in the final week as the opposition stressed the rising cost of food and housing and an economy that had slowed to about 3% growth from near 6% in 2010. But in the closing days Mr. Netanyahu played up that foreigners (read: President Obama) wanted him defeated, and he rejected statehood for Palestinians, reversing a position he had taken in 2009. Read the rest of this entry »


ISRAEL ELECTION LIVE BLOG: Likud Cements Victory with Nearly All Votes Counted

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With nearly all votes counted, Benjamin Netanyahu’s Lkud party is set to emerge as the election’s big winner with 29 seats. The Zionist Union trails behind with 24 seats. The Joint List of Arab parties is the third-largest party at this point, followed by Yesh Atid, Kulanu, Habayit Hayehudi, Shas, Yisrael Beiteinu, United Torah Judaism, Meretz and Yahad.

President Reuven Rivlin said he would work for a national unity government.

Ballots were cast at 10,372 polling stations throughout Israel. Read the rest of this entry »


BIBI REBOOT: Exit Polls Show Show Obama’s Israel Regime Change Efforts May Not Succeed

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TV exit polls Tuesday night showed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Likud set to retain the Israeli leadership at the end of a bitter election campaign.

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Polling stations opened at 7 a.m. on Tuesday and Israeli citizens headed for the ballots to vote for Israel’s 20th Knesset. Polls from the end of last week had left options open for a tight race. The TV exit polls were published at 10 p.m., as polling stations closed, after which official results began to roll in. The official final results won’t be publicized until Thursday.

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Netanyahu, vying for the role for his fourth time (third consecutively), had made a last-ditch attempt over the past days to win back voters mainly from the right-wing bloc, vowing Monday night to block a Palestinian state should he remain in office.

Unlike years past, analysts had said the race between Likud and Zionist Union, the two leading factions, was too close to call with confidence, but the exit polls showed Netanyahu clearly better placed to build the next coalition.Bibi-Obama-AFP-Jim-Watson

UMM AL-FAHM — “We are in a historic moment,” Arab Joint List leader Ayman Odeh tells supporters at the party’s post-election event.

“We have the highest Arab voting rates since 1999,” he adds.

“We will block Netanyahu from forming the government.”

— Elhanan Miller

The Zionist Union’s candidate for defense minister, Amos Yadlin, insists the left and right are “tied” in the wake of tonight’s exit polls.

“I think this is a major achievement for Zionist Union. No poll gave us 27 mandates,” which the party gets in the polls. “I think you have to remember where Labor was three months ago, at 14 mandates, and where it is today.”

“Nothing is finished,” Yadlin insists. “Meretz passed the electoral threshold nicely and Yachad didn’t pass the threshold,” he notes, “so let’s wait for the final results. This is a tie, and the keys are in Moshe Kahlon’s hands,” he concludes.

Final turnout hits 71.8%, highest since 1999

Final voter turnout rises to 71.8%, according to final Central Election Committee data, higher than in the past five elections. It marks a five-point rise from 2013’s 66.6%.

Kahlon also tells Netanyahu to wait

Moshe Kahlon of Kulanu, like the ultra-Orthodox party United Torah Judaism, tells Netanyahu he will not decide who to support for premier until the final official results are published on Thursday.

He reportedly told the same to Isaac Herzog, who is frantically trying to put together a Netanyahu-blocking coalition that might force a unity government. Read the rest of this entry »