Lapid concedes defeat to Netanyahu as election tally nears end
Israel's outgoing Prime Minister Yair Lapid has conceded defeat to opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday as election tally nears end on Thursday.
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid on Thursday conceded defeat to Benjamin Netanyahu in this week's election, paving the way for the Israeli opposition leader to come back to power.
Lapid felicitated Netanyahu and asked his staff to prepare an organized transition of power, his office said.
"[...] Israel comes before any political consideration," Lapid said. "I wish Netanyahu success."
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After a near-final vote count, Lapid revealed in an announcement that Netanyahu was securing a majority in the Knesset with his allies, and final results were expected later Thursday.
It is expected that the former prime minister will form the most right-wing government since the declaration of "Israel" upon his assumption of power.
"Israel" held on Tuesday its fifth election in four years, a prolonged political crisis that saw voters divided over Netanyahu's fitness to serve while on trial for corruption.
Following the elections, preliminary projections suggested that Netanyahu was within striking distance of a governing majority and staging a comeback.
Although the margins were tight, an expected scenario in the bitterly divided occupation government, the right-wing occupation leader was leading early on.
According to predictions from three Israeli networks, Netanyahu's Likud will likely take over the 120-seat Knesset with 30 or 31 seats to spare.
The initial projections indicated that this number, along with anticipated totals for the two ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties and the extreme-right Religious Zionism Party, gave the coalition supporting Netanyahu between 61 and 62 seats.
With projections putting centrist Yesh Atid between 22 and 24 seats, caretaker PM Yair Lapid's party was on track to finish in second place as expected.
This comes after the Israeli occupation's former PM seemed to be struggling to achieve a majority in the Knesset in light of the rising anti-Netanyahu rhetoric among his opponents.
Polls earlier on Friday predicted that former Israeli occupation Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would be just shy of acquiring a majority in the Knesset, highlighting that the occupation's opposition leader would come within a single seat of having a majority in the upcoming election, the fifth in less than four years.
Netanyahu has pledged that his alliance of right-wingers, ultra-nationalists, and ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties will win the upcoming vote, but polls show that he may also struggle to rally a parliamentary majority.
Netanyahu in late August called for unity among the ranks of far-right Israeli parties, namely extremist Zionist Itamar Ben-Gvir's Otzma Yehudit party and Betzalel Smotrich's Religious Zionism party, Israeli media reported at the time.
Smotrich welcomed the call for uniting of far-right Zionist parties. However, Ben-Gvir was not too fond of the statement, as he accused his former political partner, Smotrich, of slowing him down due to his delayed actions. In the meantime, it seems that Ben-Gvir is on board.