Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Netanyahu Wins Stunning Victory Against Political Rival in Israel's Unprecedented Third Election

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a victory speech to supporters of his Likud Party in the wee hours of Tuesday morning after his stunning, come-from-behind victory in Israel’s third successive elections. Netanyahu came onstage singing his party song, and thanked his supporters for their hard work in securing the win. “I remember our first victory in 1996. It was an historic victory,” Netanyahu said, in Hebrew. “But this victory, this time, is at least as sweet, if not sweeter. An even greater victory! Because it was a victory against all the odds.” Netanyahu had trailed in polls until the final days, and still faces criminal indictment on corruption charges (which his supporters claim are baseless and politically motivated). But voters rallied to his side for a variety of factors. One may have been the indirect influence of American politics. Israeli voters watching Democrats choose Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) as their frontrunner may have been convinced to stick with their tough-minded leader. Netanyahu came to power in 2009 promising to oppose pressure from then-newly-elected President Barack Obama. Netanyahu cited his record. “Do you know why [voters] put faith in us?” he asked. “Because they know that we brought the greatest decade in the history of the State of Israel.” He talked about the country’s economic progress — which defied the recession that gripped much of the rest of the world — saying Israel had become “a country that is good to live in,” in terms of quality of life. He also cited his good relationships with foreign leaders — not just with President Donald Trump, but also with Muslim nations. One supporter waved a “Trump 2020: Keep America Great” prominently at the Likud victory party. Exit polls projected that Likud had won roughly 36 or 37 seats in Israel’s 120-seat Knesset, nearly enough to form a governing majority with small conservative parties. The opposition Blue and White was projected to win 32 or 33.

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