The Latest: Defiant Israel PM seeks to lead ruling coalition
JERUSALEM (AP) — The Latest on the Israeli election (all times local):
Israel’s prime minister says he will seek to lead a ruling coalition with his religious and nationalist allies, despite falling short of a parliamentary majority in Tuesday’s elections.
Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday at a party meeting in Jerusalem that he opposes any government that “leans on the anti-Zionist Arab parties,” and said he would make “every effort to prevent a dangerous government like this.”
Neither Netanyahu’s Likud party nor its main rival — the Blue and White party headed by former military chief of staff Benny Gantz — won enough votes to declare an outright victory.
Gantz’s centrist bloc, which could potentially include the Joint List of Arab parties, has a slight edge over Netanyahu and his longtime ultra-Orthodox and religious nationalist allies.
An official in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office says the Israeli leader will not be attending this year’s United Nations General Assembly in New York, an event he ordinarily uses to advance Israeli interests on the world stage.
The trip’s cancellation comes just hours after Israel’s national elections, in which Netanyahu failed to secure an outright victory in the polls, paving the way for arduous coalition talks.
The official said Wednesday that the planned visit to the U.S. next week, where he was also to meet with President Donald Trump, would not take place. There was no word whether the meeting would be rescheduled. The official spoke on condition of anonymity pending a formal announcement.
Israel’s two main political parties are deadlocked after national elections, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu facing an uphill battle to keep his job.
Seeming kingmaker Avigdor Lieberman says Wednesday he’ll insist upon a secular unity government between Netanyahu’s Likud and Benny Gantz’s Blue and White parties, who are currently tied.
Lieberman says that is the “one and only option” on the table.
Without Lieberman’s endorsement, both parties appear to have fallen well short of securing a parliamentary majority with ideological allies.
Gantz, a former military chief, 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. That could spell the end of Netanyahu’s lengthy rule.
However, final results could still swing toward Netanyahu.