Likud gains 30 mandates with Zionist Union at 24 in shocking victory; Herzog concedes and congratulates Netanyahu; Palestinian chief negotiator announces intension to intensify efforts in International Criminal Court
Prime Minister has secured his place as Prime Minister following elections on Tuesday. Exit polls on Tuesday night showed just one seat more than the Zionist Union led by Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni, but by 6:00 am Wednesday morning, all votes were counted with Netanyahu’s party, Likud, at 30 seats, 6 above the Zionist Union at 24.
the Joint Arab List at 14 seats and Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid at 11 seats. Moshe Kahlon received 10 seats with Bennett’s Bayit Yehudi with 8 seats. Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu received a surprising 6 mandates with United Torah Judaism and both Shas with 6 seats and the Meretz party with 4.
Prime Minister Netanyahu stated on Wednesday morning that his first goal as Israel’s continuing Prime Minister is to “immediately begin forming a government in order to complete this task within two to three weeks,” adding that “Reality will not wait for us. Reality will not take a time out. The citizens of Israel expect us to quickly put together a leadership that will work for them regarding security, economy and society as we committed to do – and we will do so.”
He stated on Tuesday night when polls showed his victory that, “Against all odds we pulled out a major victory of the Likud. We achieved a major victory for our people. I am proud of the people of Israel. Now we must form a strong and stable government that will defend the security and welfare of all Israeli citizens.”
Head of the Zionist Union Isaac Herzog called Prime Minister Netanyahu to concede and congratulate him Wednesday morning. He stated following the conversation that, “A few minutes ago I spoke with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and congratulated him on his achievement and wished him luck.” On elections and his defeat to Netanyahu Herzog stated that his party would stay true to the fight for “social justice and democracy, stating “I think that right now what Israel needs most of all is another voice, a voice that provides an alternative and a voice that still tells the truth, our real truth, a truth that received truly huge support, a truth that has not won such support in nearly a generation.”
And Meretz Chairwoman, the chief of the ultra-left party, Zehava Gal-On reported on Wednesday morning that she would resign from her position. She stated, “I said during the campaign that if Meretz succeeded it would be everyone’s success, but if Meretz failed to meet expectations I was the address and I would take personal responsibility. Therefore this morning I announced that I was resigning and relinquishing my seat in the Knesset so that my colleague Tamar Zandberg can enter in my place. I will not run for the leadership of Meretz again, and will remain as Meretz chair until an orderly handover can take place in the near future.”
And Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erakat reacted to Netanyahu’s victory, stating that “It is clear that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will form the next government, so we say clearly that we will go to the International Criminal Court in the Hague and we will speed up, pursue and intensify these efforts.”