Israel’s president to begin talks about PM choice on Monday

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu greets supporters at his Likud Party headquarters in the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv on election night early

In a move created to cut through his right-wing opponents, Netanyahu promised to formally annex the West Bank settlements to Israel. First of all, let us not forget that Netanyahu has reached this point already worn down by a tenure with more dark than bright spells. Likud had 30 during the 20th Knesset, whilst the only party represented from the Blue and White alliance was Yesh Atid, with 11 Knesset members.

In a race that had been too close to call for most of Tuesday, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared headed for a record fifth term Wednesday morning.

Trump said in a tweet he congratulated Netanyahu on "a great and hard-fought win". The president was on a flight to Texas.

Sputnik: We have 99 percent* of the votes counted; what do you think?

In a series of appearances before Congress, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo refused to say whether the plan would reaffirm Washington's decades-old backing of a Palestinian state, saying only that past plans have failed.

Reuven Rivlin, president of Israel, will now consult with political leaders to see who can put together a government and announce the results next week. Rivlin will then pick the candidate he believes has the best chance of assembling a parliamentary majority, and ask that leader to form a government within 42 days. Every ruling party faces challenges after a decade in power - voter fatigue is nearly inescapable - but Netanyahu's future has been clouded by allegations of corruption, charges he denies. Netanyahu has denied all allegations of wrongdoing.

Saudi Arabia hails U.S. terror blacklisting of Iran Guard
The US has already blacklisted dozens of entities and individuals affiliated with the IRGC, but not the entire force. The president added that the move was meant to "significantly expand the scope and scale" of pressure on Iran.

Netanyahu, speaking Tuesday night, declared it a "tremendous victory" for his party.

"He's a magician!" the crowd chanted as fireworks flared and Netanyahu kissed his wife Sara. That could be scuppered if criminal charges are filed and force his removal. Without Liberman, Netanyahu could only muster 60 seats, but Liberman would not likely vote with the entire opposition, including Arab parties, to block such a coalition. Accordingly Gantz, although an able and intelligent man, established no platform of his own which could swing enough voters from the right of Israel's political map.

"But our achievement can not be belittled: we are the biggest party in Israel", he said of the party, which was formed only two months before the election.

During the campaign, Netanyahu sought to tap into Trump's popularity among Israelis, who delighted in his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital in 2017 and transfer of the U.S. Embassy to the holy city last May from Tel Aviv. He himself is very close to the president of the United States, but also to the president of Russian Federation and other leaders in the world who want to come to Israel because they think about the 3-Ts: the technology - Israel today is really a leader in technology; terror - Israel fights and in a way has experience in fighting terror and shares that knowledge with other countries; and Trump - many leaders from the world come here, like Bolsonaro, the president of Brazil some, because they think that Netanyahu has the keys to the White House and the contacts with President Trump. Eliot Engel and Nita Lowey, both D-N.Y., Ted Deutch, D-Fla. and Brad Schneider, D-Ill., did not name Netanyahu, but alluded to his pledge that he would extend Israeli law to Jewish settlements in the West Bank - even those in remote areas that would diminish the prospects of a contiguous Palestinian state.

Netanyahu's strength doesn't come from getting many more votes than his main challenger, retired Gen. Benny Gantz. But with Trump's moves on Jerusalem and the Golan, the prime minister may feel emboldened to advocate annexation.

The last round of US -brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians collapsed in 2014. "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". If it includes Israeli concessions to the Palestinians, Netanyahu's probable far-right coalition allies will probably object.

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