JERUSALEM, Nov. 3 (Reuters) – Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid on Thursday congratulated Benjamin Netanyahu on his election win, as the final results confirmed the former prime minister’s triumphant comeback at the head of a solid right-wing alliance.
Netanyahu’s victory will end an unprecedented stalemate in Israel after five elections in less than four years.
This time, Netanyahu, the dominant Israeli politician of his generation, won a clear parliamentary majority, supported by ultra-nationalist and religious parties.
Tuesday’s vote saw the centrist Lapid and his rare alliance of conservatives, liberals and Arab politicians who, more than 18 months in power, made diplomatic breakthroughs with Turkey and Lebanon and kept the economy going.
As conflict with the Palestinians flared up again and fueled Jewish-Arab tensions within Israel, Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud and allied parties took 64 of the Knesset’s 120 seats.
Netanyahu has yet to be officially tasked by the president with forming a government, a process that could take weeks.
“The time has come to put things in order here. It’s time for a landlord to come,” tweeted Itamar Ben-Gvir of the far-right Religious Zionism party, Likud’s likely senior partner.
He was responding to a stabbing reported by Jerusalem police. In the West Bank, troops killed an Islamic Jihad militant and a 45-year-old man in a separate incident, medics said. Asked about the latest death, the military said it opened fire when Palestinians attacked them with rocks and petrol bombs.
Later in the evening, air raid sirens went off in southern Israel after militants in Gaza fired a missile that had apparently been intercepted by missile defenses, the military said.
Ben-Gvir, a settler in the West Bank and former member of Kach, a Jewish militant group on Israeli and US terrorist lists, wants to become a police minister.
Israeli media, citing political sources, said the new government could be confirmed by mid-month. Previous coalitions had smaller parliamentary majority in recent years, making them vulnerable to no-confidence motions.
With coalition-building talks yet to officially begin, it was still unclear what position Ben-Gvir might take in a future government. Since the election, both he and Netanyahu have pledged to serve all citizens.
But Ben-Gvir’s ascendancy has sparked unrest among the 21% Arab minority and center-left Jews — and especially among Palestinians whose US-sponsored talks on statehood with Israel failed in 2014.
While Washington has publicly reserved judgment pending the formation of the new Israeli coalition, a US State Department spokesman on Wednesday emphasized the countries’ “shared values”.
“We hope that all Israeli government officials will continue to share the values of an open, democratic society, including tolerance and respect for everyone in civil society, especially minority groups,” the spokesman said.
US Ambassador to Israel Thomas Nides said he spoke to Netanyahu and told him he was looking forward to “working together to preserve the unbreakable bond”.
Additional reporting by Ali Sawafta and Nidal-al-Mughrabi; Written by Dan Williams Edited by Tomasz Janowski, Jon Boyle and Howard Goller
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.