Surprise! Netanyahu Gets Vote of Confidence

Wednesday, March 18, 2015
Surprise! Netanyahu Gets Vote of Confidence
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures to supporters at party headquarters in Tel Aviv, March 18, 2015.

It appeared early today that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu scored an even clearer victory than Tuesday night's exit polls suggested.

With some 99.5 percent of votes counted early today, his Likud party appeared to have earned 30 out of the Israeli parliament's 120 seats. The opposition Zionist Union appeared to wind up with just 24 seats.

Recent polling showed Netanyahu trailing.

"Against all odds, we achieved a great victory for the Likud," Netanyahu told supporters even before final election results were in, according to the Associated Press. "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."

Netanyahu tacked hard to the right in recent days. And what many saw as desperate, hail-Mary moves to get that far right vote paid off domestically.

However, the promises he made in this pre-election blitz have put him on a direct collision course with Washington. He promised settlement expansion in Israel's occupied territories and backed away from long-stated international goal of arriving at a two-state solution to settle differences with the Palestinians.

Now, the coalition-building will start, and Netanyahu said he's already spoken with all party leaders who will take part in his coalition.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu's biggest rival, center-left Isaac Herzog of Zionist Union, released this statement Wednesday morning: "This is not an easy morning for us and for those that believe in our way. We will lead the fight, together with our partners in Knesset, for the values we believe in."

Netanyahu is now on track to become the country's longest serving PM -- a title currently held by the country's founding father, David Ben-Gurion.

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