World News: Netanyahu, Gantz Claim Victory In Israeli Closely-Fought Parliamentary Elections

Blue and White party leaders Yair Lapid and Benny Gantz ahead of a press conference in Tel Aviv

"Look, everyone said - and I never made it a promise - but everybody said you can't have peace in the Middle East with Israel and the Palestinians", Trump said.

Netanyahu has portrayed himself as a master-statesman and highlighted his relations with (mostly) populist and anti-liberal world leaders.

"It will be a right-wing government, but I will be prime minister for all", he said.

The results showed that Likud won 35 seats, right-wing United Torah Judaism grabbed eight seats, five for Yisrael Beiteinu, four for Kulanu party, eight for Shas party and five for the Union of Right-Wing Parties. As that desperation wears off, he might move further away from the far-right. The Palestinians have severed ties with the Trump administration.

Details of the plan remain closely guarded.

On Wednesday morning, with more than 97 per cent of the votes counted, Mr Netanyahu appeared the most likely candidate to be able to form a coalition government.

Reuven Rivlin added Wednesday that, for the first time, his meetings with party leaders would be broadcast on live television "in the name of transparency". That responsibility is usually given to the head of the largest party. But with the corruption cases hanging over him, a hearing he must attend, and the potential for the humiliating prospect of becoming an indicted sitting prime minister, this decision-making may yet continue.

"The right-wing bloc, led by Likud, won a decisive victory", Netanyahu tweeted Tuesday night as results rolled in. Palestinians, angered by what they see as Trump's pro-Israel bias, have called it a non-starter.

Netanyahu has been premier for a total of more than 13 years. He said he had already begun talks with prospective coalition allies. It has also placed Mr. Gantz's new Blue and White party in the position of the main alternative to the right wing, a spot once held by the Labor party.

"It's a night of tremendous victory", Netanyahu told supporters early Wednesday.

But the outcome is far from clear - at the last election, the exit polls were dramatically wrong. We have secured a historic achievement.

"They have said no to peace and yes to the occupation", he said. But with Trump's moves on Jerusalem and the Golan, the prime minister may feel emboldened to advocate annexation.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu is urging Israel to abandon strong "rhetoric and populism" now that the elections are over.

Democratic Senator Tim Kaine asked Pompeo, a former Republican member of the House of Representatives, if he thought a peace agreement including one state for Israel and one state for the Palestinians was an outdated idea.

Challenged on election day, the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, refused to say what the USA would do if the Israeli government tried to annex parts of the West Bank.

Prime Minster of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara greet supporters. He recently announced leading up to election day that he planned to annex parts of the occupied West Bank.

Ahmed Majdalani, an aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said the Palestinians will seek the help of the global community to try to block any such plans.

With corruption scandals and a likely indictment dogging him, Netanyahu waged an intense campaign blitz that overwhelmed his opponents by stressing a hard-line national security policy. Intensive coalition negotiations will follow and could drag on for days or even weeks.

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