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Lapid Says Opposition Will Make Likud’s Life Miserable; Netanyahu Gets 5th Term as Prime Minister

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Benny Gantz’s Blue and White Party officially conceded the Israeli election to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud party on Wednesday.

By: Jason Neuwirth

“We didn’t win on this round,” Yair Lapid, the 2nd-in-command of the Blue and White party said Wednesday. “I respect the voters.”

Mr. Lapid added that he and his party, along with Mr. Gantz, will battle Mr. Netanyahu from their seats in the Knesset, as the political opposition.

We are going to turn the Knesset into a battleground,” Mr. Lapid said, threatening to pursue additional allegations of corruption against the prime minister, adding that he plans to “embitter the lives” of Mr. Netanyahu and his political allies in the Knesset.

“We’re all Democrats,” Mr. Gantz, a retired General, reportedly said. “We respect the decision of the people, of the president. We will serve them from any position that we will be in the future.”

Mr. Gantz, a retired Israeli General, sought to capitalize on the recent criminal indictment against Mr. Netanyahu on charges of fraud, bribery, and breach of trust.

President Rivlin announced that he will tap the political party of his choosing, who he thinks has the best hopes for forming a successful coalition, to head Israel’s government.

U.S. President Donald Trump phoned Mr. Netanyahu Wednesday morning to congratulate him on his apparent victory. “I think we’ll see some pretty good action in terms of peace,” Mr. Trump said according to the Associated Press.

“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,” Mr. Trump told reporters Wednesday at The White House. “And I think we have, now, a better chance with Bibi having won.”

“This is a clear beginning of Netanyahu’s fifth term, but his fifth term might end up being his shortest one,” Reuven Hazan, a political expert at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, told the Associated Press in a statement. “In another year, we might be in a battle for either leadership of the Likud or another election.”

Aluf A. Mandelblit, the Attorney General of Israel, indicted Prime Minister Netanyahu on various criminal charges last month, giving a political boost to Mr. Gantz. A legally-required hearing following the indictment is expected to occur relatively soon. Experts predict that Mr. Mandelblit will then file some charges against Mr. Netanyahu, possibly resulting in a shortened term for the prime minister which has had a decade-long power grip in the Israeli government as well as new elections.

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