12:56 GMT08 April 2020
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    According to the official results, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party won 36 seats in the Israeli general election. The opposition centrist Blue and White coalition gained 35 seats in the parliament.

    Next week, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin will engage in consultations with the parties which have secured mandates in the Knesset. As a result of these consultations, the president is set to determine a candidate who will be given 42 days to form a new government.

    Sputnik has discussed the election results with Henrique Cymerman, a Labour Party member and author of the book "Voices from the Centre of the World: The Arab-Israeli Conflict told by its Protagonists".

    Sputnik: We have 99 percent* of the votes counted; what do you think? Is it a done deal, is Netanyahu going to be back for a fifth term?

    Henrique Cymerman: Well probably he’ll be the next prime minister of Israel; it’s not official because the president needs to consult all the leaders of the different parties, but then finally he will probably give him the task of forming a government.

    Benjamin Netanyahu will be the pime minister of his fifth government and soon he will be more years [as] prime minister than even the founder of Israel, Ben Gurion.

    So it’s quite a success for him, it’s a personal success for him. I think he proved he's the best campaigner in Israel and he managed his campaign alone; and he did it having all kinds of indictments against him, being accused of corruption.

    But anyway, I think the right-wing in Israel was reinforced, not only Likud, but also the religious parties, and that’s how I believe he'll have a bloc of 65 among the 120 members of the Knesset that will support his government.

    Sputnik: Would you say that this was pretty much what was expected? In the beginning we saw that the Blue and White were in the lead, and then we saw shift to Netanyahu and it was going back-and-forth. Do you think there was any expectation that Netanyahu would not  be back?

    Henrique Cymerman: Yes there was, because the Blue and White Party, they are a new party, they were created only some 2.5 months ago, but they did something important, they got quite a success too.

    But they divided the centre-left in Israel, so it was easier for Netanyahu to defeat them, because the Labour Party was left alone, isolated, the bloc of left[-wing] Meretz too, and then this Blue and White tried to bring votes from the right-wing, having some personalities like Moshe Ya'alon, the former minister of Defence who came from the right-wing, but it didn’t succeed.

    Actually, they divided, they split the centre-left and they took votes from Labour Party and from Meretz, from the left, and, in a way, they couldn’t create a bloc that also had people from the right-wing. Netanyahu understood that, and he did a kind of emergency campaign saying, “look the state of Israel is in danger, they’re going to give territories to the Arabs”.

    I believe that some parts of the right-wing, in a way, reached the conclusion after the 2005 withdrawal of Israel from the Gaza Strip — that that was a failure, a major failure, because the number of rockets and missiles that were really launched on Israeli territory increased, intensified after the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza.

    So they see that many people in the centre-right thought that this formula, “this land for peace”, is not the one to reach peace, and Netanyahu convinced them in that way, also that Israel is today a superpower. He himself is very close to the president of the United States, but also to the president of Russia and other leaders in the world who want to come to Israel because they think about the 3-Ts: the technology — Israel today is really a leader in technology; terror —  Israel fights and in a way has experience in fighting terror and shares that knowledge with other countries; and Trump —  many leaders from the world come here, like Bolsonaro, the president of Brazil some, because they think that Netanyahu has the keys to the White House and the contacts with President Trump.

    So in a way, all this was the reason why the majority of the Israelis gave Netanyahu a new mandate. In a way it was a referendum about Netanyahu, but we must be aware of the investigations going against him.

    We're talking about three indictments: he’s accused of corruption, maybe in the next days, three state witnesses coming from his own environment, people very close to him who are witnessing now against the prime minister. So I believe he’ll have a new government, his fifth government; but we know there’s a hearing in July and everything is possible. Many analysts in Israel say that we will have new elections in the next year.

    Sputnik: Benny Gantz said that Mr Netanyahu won’t last eight months in power, that was his prediction…

    Henrique Cymerman: I'd say one year, even 1.5 years.

    Sputnik: But if the laws are changed and if it becomes a fact that a sitting prime minister cannot be prosecuted, then that means that Netanyahu will be back for his entire term and some people are saying that there’s a big likelihood that that will happen; not only that, but going into the elections, some of the details of the investigations were kept quiet, they were not made public prior to elections. I think they’re going to come out after the elections, because it was decided to withhold that information prior to the election…

    Henrique Cymerman: Lots of information will be public. You're right, I believe that the new government is going to try to approve the so-called French law, which in a way tries to stop all the investigations as long as Netanyahu is the prime minister; but I’m not sure that he will succeed, it’s a possibility.

    He has the majority in the parliament, but at the same time, he must be aware of the public opinion in Israel. I’m not sure what will happen in this country if he tries to approve this law, what will happen in the streets of Israel, demonstrations etc. I think it will be a huge political fight that will happen this summer in Israel.

    Views and opinions expressed in this article are those of Henrique Cymerman and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik. *The interview was made before the release of the final election results.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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