Netanyahu, Gantz Claim Victory In Israeli Closely-Fought Parliamentary Elections - World News

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Palestinian officials in Ramallah said they were not surprised by the results of the general election in Israel and expressed concern over the rise of Netanyahu's right-wing bloc.

President Donald Trump said Wednesday that election results handing a narrow victory to right-wing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu give a "better chance" to a yet to be unveiled U.S. peace plan.

But with at least 97 percent of the votes counted, Netanyahu appears to be in the best position to form a government because of the strength of other right-wing, nationalist and religious parties.

But the party and its traditional right-wing political allies will likely be the most powerful bloc and are set to win 65 seats in the 120-seat Knesset - the Israeli parliament.

In winning a record fifth term Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu scored a uniquely personal triumph.

However, the election result means Netanyahu could become Israel's longest-serving Premier, overtaking Israel's founding father David Ben-Gurion.

The results do not include the votes of soldiers, prisoners and diplomats, which are expected to be counted by Thursday afternoon and could affect the numbers.

Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said that "Israelis have voted to preserve the status quo".

Under Netanyahu's watch, Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital and moved the US Embassy there, withdrew from the nuclear deal with Iran, endorsed Israeli control of the Golan Heights and officially designated Tehran's Revolutionary Guard a terrorist group. "I'd like to congratulate him on a well-thought-out race".

"The common features of these parties are that, firstly, they are right-wing parties, I would even say the far-right-wing parties, which has been indicated even in their names", he said. "He's been a great ally and he's a friend".

As the day wore on, reports surfaced of Netanyahu's Likud party placing hidden cameras inside numerous predominantly Arab dominated polling stations, prompting an outcry among mainstream voters.

After declaring victory early in the night, Gantz's Blue and White party watched as the numbers turned against them in a knife-edge vote.

Gantz told reporters Wednesday that the broad support for his centrist Blue and White party proves "the people want a different way and we are going to deliver it". The attorney general has recommended a series of criminal charges against the prime minister but will only make a decision on indicting him after a legally mandated hearing. "I'm very touched that, for the fifth time, the people of Israel have believed in me".

Both Netanyahu and Gantz claimed victory after the initial exit surveys that gave Blue and White the most seats.

Germany has pledged to work closely with any new Israeli government and stressed the "cordial" ties between the two countries despite recent differences on Israel's settlement policies. Thank you to the thousands of activists and over a million voters.

The outlet also added, "The election committee said it made a mistake and accidentally entered voting eligibility data from 2015 to the website showing live election results". Netanyahu has reneged on election eve promises before, but should he follow through on this one, it would mark a dramatic development and potentially wipe out the already diminishing hope for Palestinian statehood. Palestinians, angered by what they see as Trump's pro-Israel bias, have called it a non-starter.