“The right-wing bloc led by Likud clearly won. I thank Israeli citizens for their trust,” Netanyahu stated at Likud headquarters Tuesday night.
By Terri Nir, World Israel News
It was a tense national election day on Tuesday, with the 10 p.m. exit polls showing the new Blue and White party in the lead or standing neck and neck with Likud.
Just after 3 a.m. Wednesday morning, however, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu emerged as the clear winner, with Likud leading 35 to 34 over Blue and White. They were followed by religious and right-wing parties – natural partners for Likud – putting Netanyahu in a strong position to form the next government.
“The right-wing bloc led by Likud clearly won,” Netanyahu told thousands of jubilant supporters at Likud headquarters. “I will begin forming a right-wing government with our natural partners already tonight… This is a night of tremendous, tremendous victory.”
“Already tonight, almost all of them declared publicly that they will recommend me to form the next government,” he said. “I intend to finish the job quickly in order to establish a nationalist, stable government.”
“It will be a right-wing government, but I intend to be the prime minister of all the citizens of Israel – right and left, Jews and non-Jews alike. All the citizens of Israel,” he declared.
Acknowledging the major hurdles facing Israel regarding security, economy, society and foreign relations, Netanyahu expressed confidence that “we will be able to meet all these challenges.”
Concerning the “path to peace with Arab nations,” for example, “even as we speak, it’s happening,” he said.
The Israeli leader tearfully thanked his wife and children for their support, noting “how much suffering my family has endured” during a particularly vicious election campaign fraught with mudslinging and defamation.