Benjamin Netanyahu reacts as he shakes hands with someone after addressing supporters on Wednesday. Thomas Coex/AFP
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu secured a clear path to reelection on Wednesday, with religious-rightist parties set to hand him a parliamentary majority despite a close contest against his main centrist challenger, a vote tally showed.
With more than 97 per cent of votes counted, Netanyahu's conservative Likud party looked likely to muster enough support to control 65 of the Knesset's 120 seats and be named to head the next coalition government — a record fifth term as premier.
The close and often vitriolic contest was widely seen in Israel as a referendum on Netanyahu's character and record in the face of corruption allegations. He faces possible indictment in three graft cases, and has denied wrongdoing in all of them.
Despite that, Netanyahu gained four seats compared to his outgoing coalition government, according to a spreadsheet published by the Central Elections Committee of parties that won enough votes to enter the next parliament.
His challenger, the new Blue and White party of ex-general Benny Gantz, claimed a more modest victory after winning a 35-seat tie with Likud. Unless he reverses on campaign pledges to shun Netanyahu, and joins him in a future broad coalition, Gantz looked destined to lead a centre-left parliamentary opposition.
Netanyahu highlighted his close relationship with US President Donald Trump, who delighted Israelis and angered Palestinians by recognising Jerusalem as Israel's capital in 2017 and moving the US Embassy to the holy city last May.
Two weeks before the election, Trump signed a proclamation, with Netanyahu at his side at the White House, recognising Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights captured from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war.
US President Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner said on Tuesday that he would present his long-awaited Middle East peace proposal around June and that it would include a "robust business plan" for the Palestinians.
The good news from the US is that for the first time, perhaps ever, 50 per cent of that country’s citizens support the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. A poll taken between February 1-10 by the reliable Gallup organisation reveals this dramatic shift in the position of the public in the country which has, for seven decades, been Israel’s faithful friend and, often as now, subservient servant as is the case under the Trump administration.
The Palestinian groom, Walid, was preparing his new marital home for his wedding in a few weeks’ time when the family heard the “knock on the roof”. An non-explosive missile had made a hole in the top of the block of flats in Gaza where Walid’s sister, Hiba, and her four children live.
The blast, which took place late Saturday in west Kabul, came as Washington and the Taliban are in the final stages of a deal to reduce the US military presence in Afghanistan. The Taliban denied any involvement in the attack.
Sharjah Police have arrested a ten-member Asian gang for possessing and selling counterfeit goods worth Dhs17 million. Suspects were arrested after a report was filed by one of the major brands who claimed that several vendors
The Abu Dhabi Police, in cooperation with the Sharjah Police and the Ajman Police, have seized three gangs of 25 Asians for involvement in phone scam crimes through which they were able to cheat their victims and seize their savings in fraudulent ways.
“The Project includes the construction of two bridges on the collector road as well as ramps to serve right, left and U-turns. The project works also cover widening connecting streets, and a cycling bridge in addition to lighting works, rainwater drainage systems, and utility lines.