Israel’s premier calls for unity after Netanyahu election victory

Israel’s premier calls for unity after Netanyahu election victory

JERUSALEM: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has issued a call for national unity after being defeated in national elections by former premier Benjamin Netanyahu, with the support of the ultranationalist, far-right party.

In a ceremony to commemorate the murdered Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, the outgoing PM Yair Lapid was warned about the deep divisions that have plagued Israel following the tense election, Israel’s fifth since the beginning of 2019.

He seemed to be taking aim at Religious Zionism which is an extreme party that has repeatedly made remarks that are anti-Arab and anti-LGBTQ. Religious Zionism came out as the third largest party in the Parliament and is likely to play a an important role the Netanyahu government.

Netanyahu’s Likud Party, along with Religious Zionism and a pair of ultra-Orthodox religious groups won a 64-seat majority of the 120-seat Parliament during the election on Tuesday. The Likud Party is expected to create the new majority for the governing party within the next few weeks.

Lapid’s coalition that left was a mix of parties, which included the first Arab party to be a part within the Israeli government, was able to win just 51 seats.

Like the previous four, was focused on Netanyahu’s ability to govern even as he faces corruption accusations.

Religious Zionism has pledged to introduce new reforms which could weaken Israel’s judiciary branch, and grant Netanyahu immunity, and even allow indictments against him vanish. Some critics say that this plan would be a devastating hit on Israel’s institutions of democracy.

Religious Zionism also advocates an aggressive approach towards the Palestinians as well as Israel’s own Palestinian minority.

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Netanyahu was not present at the celebration. In a subsequent speech in the Parliament, Netanyahu said that following the elections, “it is time to step out of the trenches and understand how to cooperate.”

The head of Religious Zionism, Bezalel Smotrich has complained that his followers are being unfairly “demonized” as a supporter of Rabin’s murder, an act Smotrich described as “horrendous”.

His running mate, Itamar Ben-Gvir, famously displayed a hood emblem taken from the car of Rabin weeks prior to the assassination. “Just the moment we reach this symbol, we could be able to Rabin,” Ben-Gvir, who is currently running for an important Cabinet post, told reporters in the moment.

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