Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Bruised Netanyahu Wins 3rd Term as Israel's Prime Minister

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu emerged the bruised winner of Israel's Knesset election on Tuesday, Poised to serve as Israel's Prime Minister but losing ground to resurgent Right-Center parties, according to the exit polls.
 Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu waves to supporters after initial election results early Wednesday showed the Likud-Beytenu heading for a victory, albeit with a much-reduced number of Knesset seats (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Likud Beitenu emerged as the largest party with 33 seats, 9 fewer than the 42 they held in the previous Knesset, according to Minah Tzemach's exit poll conducted for Channel 2 news.

While votes are still counted, the projections showed Right-wing/Religious parties with a combined majority of 63 seats against 57 for the Center-Left-Arab bloc.

"According to the exit poll results, it is clear that Israel's citizens have decided that they want me to continue in the job of prime minister of Israel and to form as broad a government as possible," Netanyahu wrote on his Facebook page.

"The (election) results observed are a great opportunity for many changes for the benefit of all citizens of Israel. The complications ahead of us are many and wide, as from tonight I will start my efforts to form a very wide government as possible."

“Bibi will form the next government. It will be a bit harder now, but he did it in the past, he will do it again,” Gil Halfi, a veteran Likud official from Ra’anana, told Times of Israel. “The campaign failed,” he charged. "The Likud did so much over the last four years, so many achievements. But they didn’t emphasize this enough.”

Sharing a split screen with Yair Lapid, the biggest winner of the night, Netanyahu told 'weary but elated supporters' early Wednesday he plans to form a government "as broad as possible" and pursue his goals with "many partners."

"I'm proud to be your prime minister. I thank you for giving me a chance, for the third time, to lead the State of Israel. It is a great privilege and a great responsibility," he said.

"This is an opportunity to effect the kind of change the Israeli people are waiting for, one that will serve the people as a whole. I hope to lead this change," he continued, "and for that we need to form the broadest government possible. And I have started doing that tonight."

"The new government will be based on five principles: The first is security. We will meet the security threats Israel faces, first and foremost is stopping Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.

"The second principle is fiscal responsibility vis-a-vis the global recession. The third is political responsibility – we will strive to achieve true peace. The fourth is ensuring the equal distribution of burden in society; and the fifth is cutting the cost of living and housing prices."

"I believe the results of the election represent an opportunity to make changes that the people of Israel want to see and that will serve all citizens of the state of Israel," he said. "I plan to lead those changes and to that end we must establish a government that is as broad as possible, and I've already started out on that task."

"It is a great privilege but it is also a great responsibility," he said. "I believe the results of the elections represent an opportunity to make changes that the people of Israel want to see and (that) will serve all of the citizens of the state of Israel."