BENJAMIN Netanyahu’s grip on power appeared to be loosening after Israel’s general election was deadlocked.
The Prime Minister appeared dejected after his Likud party and its main rival Blue and White, led by former army chief Benny Gantz, tied at 32 seats each out of the 120 in parliament.
That means they are relying on the support of smaller parties, in particular that of Yisrael Beitenu headed by former defence minister Avigdor Lieberman.
He has said he’ll insist upon a secular unity government between Netanyahu’s Likud and Benny Gantz’s Blue and White parties,
But Gantz has ruled out sitting with a Netanyahu-led Likud at a time when the prime minister is expected to be indicted on corruption charges in the coming weeks.
It raised the prospect of an alternate Likud candidate rising to challenge Netanyahu.
The Prime Minster is known “the magician” in Israel for his ability to pull off election victories despite the odds seemingly being stacked against him.
But Professor Colin Shindler, an expert on Israeli politics at SOAS University of London, told the BBC: “He’s run out of rabbits.”
Israel’s attorney general has recommended charging Netanyahu with bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three scandals, pending a long-awaited hearing scheduled in the coming weeks.
A formal indictment would increase the pressure on Netanyahu to step aside if he does not have immunity.
“According to the current results, Netanyahu did not complete his mission. We did,” Mr. Gantz told a crowd of cheering supporters in Tel Aviv early on Wednesday morning.
Later he said he had already begun working toward forming a “unity government” but urged patience until the final results were announced.
Liberman demanded a secular “liberal” government shorn of the religious and ultra-Orthodox allies the prime minister has heavily courted.
“The conclusion is clear, everything we said throughout the campaign is coming true,” he said outside his home in the West Bank settlement of Nokdim.
“There is one and only option a national unity government that is broad and liberal and we will not join any other option.”
MOST READ IN NEWS
Netanyahu made annexing large parts of the West Bank where there are Jewish settlements a centrepiece of his re-election campaign.
The Prime Minister, however, said he would wait until the publication of US President Donald Trump’s long-awaited plan for a peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians.
In response, the Prime Minister of the Palestinian authority Mohammed Shtayyeh said any such move would be “illegal” and threatened to “sue Israel in international courts”.
We pay for your stories! Do you have a story for The Sun Online news team? Email us at [email protected] or call 0207 782 4368 . You can WhatsApp us on 07810 791 502. We pay for videos too. Click here to upload yours.