Netanyahu Defies Odds, Remains Israeli Prime Minister

Early polling of the Israeli elections had suggested that three term Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s service may be coming to an end, but in a last minute push by Netanyahu through social media, voters came out in force to ensure the Prime Minister his fourth term.

Earlier in the day, it seemed that Netanyahu’s main challenger, Isaac Herzog of the Zionist Union alliance, was on his way to victory over the incumbent Netanyahu’s Lukid party. In a last minute push, Netanyahu posted a video to his Facebook, pleading with voters to show their support for his conservative policies.

In the twenty eight second video, Netanyahu accused leftist parties of rallying Israeli Arab voters and bringing them to the polls in an effort to overturn the conservative right. Earlier in the week, Netanyahu had vowed there would be no Palestinian state under his watch. While some think Netanyahu was using fear tactics to gain support, others lament that his re-election will further strain Israeli and Palestinian relations.

Netanyahu isn’t immune to international criticism either. Earlier in the month, Netanyahu ruffled the feathers of Washington DC when he presented a speech before the US Congress regarding President Obama’s talks with Iran over nuclear policy. President Obama refused to meet with the Israeli Prime Minister, essentially stating that Netanyahu was merely spewing repetitive propaganda rather than coming up with actual solutions.

Just days before the election, Netanyahu had pulled his support of a “two-state solution” to the Middle East crisis despite the fact that many Israelis and other international partners supported the plan as an effort to achieve peace in the region.

With Netanyahu’s win on Wednesday and the vote count nearly complete, early numbers suggest that Netanyahu’s Lukid party will hold a five seat lead over the Zionist Union party, meaning his leadership will maintain control over the decision on behalf of Israel. While Netanyahu has clearly shown his political fortitude, it remains to be seen if the Prime Minister will be able to mend the growing rift with his international partners and the disgruntled Israeli constituents who voted for Herzog and nearly cost him the election.

In his acceptance speech, Netanyahu didn’t appear concerned:

“Against all odds, we achieved a great victory for the Likud. I am proud of the people of Israel, who in the moment of truth knew how to distinguish between what is important and what is peripheral, and to insist on what is important.”

What do you think? Did the Israelis make the right decision?

[Photo courtesy of Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images]

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