On Thursday, with nearly all the votes counted, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid conceded defeat to former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“The State of Israel comes before any political consideration,” said Lapid, who has served as interim prime minister for four months. “I wish Netanyahu success, for the sake of the people of Israel and the State of Israel.”
Now the man who has dominated Israeli politics for more than a decade has made a dramatic return to power with the help of far-right parties that surged into the mainstream after the country’s latest election.
Lapid made the announcement just before the release of the final results, which showed the Netanyahu-led bloc winning 64 out of 120 seats in Israel’s parliament, the Knesset. The results will not just secure Netanyahu’s comeback but underscore the country’s rightward shift, posing a headache for the United States and further sidelining hopes for peace with the Palestinians.
“We have received a huge vote of confidence and we are on the verge of a very big victory,” Netanyahu, who is standing trial was corruption charges, told his cheering supporters during an early morning speech at a victory rally in Jerusalem on Tuesday.
The 73-year-old is the country’s longest-serving leader, having been in office for a total of 15 years in two separate stints. But the government he appears likely to form would be the most right-wing in Israeli history.
Far-right parties that were once on the fringes have now won more than 10% of the seats in parliament — and are also likely to secure Cabinet seats.
Among them is Jewish Power, the ideological descendant of an extremist group that was once placed on the U.S. terrorist watchlist. Its leader, Itamar Ben Gvir, was convicted in 2007 of supporting a terrorist group and inciting racism when he held anti-Arab signs at a protest.
“I’ll work for all of Israel, even those who hate me,” Ben Gvir told his supporters.
The Tribulation is commencing…
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