Netanyahu declares victory in bitter Israeli election

Incumbent Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu has won a fourth term in the 2015 Israeli election.

It was not until the wee-hours of the morning after the election that it became clear that Netanyahu’s Likud Party had pulled away from it’s chief opposition, Isaac Herzog’s Zionist Union Party. United Arab List, a union of four Israeli-Arab parties will come in third place with 14 seats.

In the end, it appears that Likud has won 30 seats in the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, and that Zionist Union will trail behind at 24.

The two parties were neck-and-neck after the polls closed, but a confident Netanyahu tweeted the following:

Netanyahu was behind Herzog in the polls before his 11th hour shift to the right a day before the election, promising that there would be no Palestinian state if he were elected.

“Anyone who is going to establish a Palestinian state, anyone who is going to evacuate territories today, is simply giving a base for attacks to radical Islam,” he said.

In 2009 however, Netanyahu gave a speech in support of a two-state solution.

He said on March 8 that the 2009 speech was “irrelevant” because “in the present situation in the Middle East, any vacated territory will be immediately overtaken by radical Islam and terrorist organizations sponsored by Iran.”

The two-state solution has been a part of America’s framework for peace in the Middle-East since the 1970s.

For his part, Herzog is remaining defiant.

“I intend to make every effort to put together a true social welfare minded government for Israel … that will seek peace with our neighbors,” he said.

With the vote so close, anyone hoping to govern will have to do so with a coalition of other parties in the fractured Knesset. With more seats going to right-wing, religious and nationalist parties however, Netanyahu seems to have the advantage in his hands.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said that he would support a National Unity government, a prospect that seems unlikely given the polarization between Netanyahu and Herzog.

Israel has not had a National Unity government in 30 years.

Stay tuned for updates on this story.

[USA Today] [Reuters] [NY Times [Photo cred. Reuters]