Gantz Does Not Concede Elections

Israelis head to polls as Prime Minister Netanyahu seeks fifth term

Netanyahu's threat to annex settlements

"It will be a right-wing government, but I will be prime minister for all", he said. Some 40 parties took part in the election, and only those that receive at least 3.25% of the votes make it into parliament.

Netanyahu kept his close ties with Trump in the public eye, erecting billboards in big cities showing the two smiling leaders shaking hands. "No one has achieved that and I can't see anyone getting there", said Judie Raziel, a 60-year-old religious Jew who lives in the settlement of Maale Adumim in the West Bank.

Final results are expected by Friday, though the provisional results showed 65 of the Knesset's 120 seats would go to the right-wing bloc of parties led by Netanyahu, against a total of 55 seats for center-left factions.

A team led by Mr Trump's adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner has been working on an Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, but they have not disclosed details.

Details of the plan remain closely guarded. He's set to meet with party leaders for their nominations, and he's announced that those meetings will be broadcast live to "ensure transparency for Israel's citizens". That responsibility is usually given to the head of the largest party.

Some still thought him callow, but in the traumatic aftermath of the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, a mini-war in Lebanon and a series of horrendous Hamas bombings, he became prime minister for the first time in 1996. In December, when these elections were called, 73% of voters said they wanted a right or centre-right government.

The degree of harm which Mr Netanyahu will wreak in his fifth term is yet to be determined. The former military chief Mr Gantz ran, essentially, as the man who was not Mr Netanyahu but could match him for "toughness" on security.

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

But the former army chief's subdued tone differed starkly from his victory speech late Tuesday, when exit polls showed the rivals in a dead heat.

Netanyahu's message of unity was a sharp contrast from his campaign theme in which he accused Gantz of conspiring with Arab parties to topple him. We have secured a historic achievement.

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In fact, the outcome of Israel's elections essentially confirms what we knew.

"The party that gains more votes in a closed voting will receive a mandate to form a government", Spivak said. As a combat soldiers in the Sayeret Matkal, as a high-tech entrepreneur, as education minister and as a cabinet member during 'Operation Protective Edge.' Now the soldiers will decide where I will continue to fight on their behalf.

The Palestinian issue and prospects for peace negotiations were notably absent from political debate this election.

He called Netanyahu's annexation pledge an "irresponsible" bid for votes.

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

In a rare turn during the race towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Mr Netanyahu further alarmed Palestinians by pledging to annex Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank if re-elected.

The minister told Turkey's NTV news channel on Wednesday that Israel "must put aside the populism and the rhetoric, it must abandon its aggressive stance".

"Israelis have voted to maintain the status quo, as far as the occupation of Palestine", said Palestine Liberation Organization Secretary-General Saeb Erekat.

Netanyahu has served multiple terms as Israel's prime minister.

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