Netanyahu rival concedes defeat in Israeli election

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's governing right-wing Likud Party appeared almost neck and neck with his main centrist rival Benny Gantz in Israel's election. (Reuters)
Updated 10 April 2019

Netanyahu rival concedes defeat in Israeli election

  • Netanyahu, 69, is now the longest-serving prime minister in Israel's history
  • Former military chief Benny Gantz and his party said they will work against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from the opposition

JERUSALEM: Israel's Blue and White party leaders are conceding defeat in Israel's election, saying they will work against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from the opposition.

Yair Lapid, the party's No. 2 figure, told a press conference Wednesday that though his party "did not win in this round, I respect the voters." He said his party will "embitter" Netanyahu's life from the opposition.

The Blue and White party, headed by former army chief of staff Benny Gantz, drew even with Netanyahu's Likud party, but the incumbent prime minister is poised to form a government with his larger bloc of religious and nationalist allies.

Netanyahu looked set to be able to stay in power with the support of religious-rightist parties, although both Likud and Blue and White won the same number of seats in the 120-member parliament.

Gantz says his party has "founded a true alternative rule to Netanyahu."

“It is a night of colossal victory,” the 69-year-old Netanyahu told cheering supporters in a late-night speech at Likud headquarters after Tuesday’s vote.

“He’s a magician,” the crowd chanted as fireworks flared and Netanyahu kissed his wife Sara.

Tel Aviv Stock Exchange main indexes opened up 0.5 percent on Wednesday, showing confidence in a prime minister who has overseen a humming economy and restrained security challenges.

His challenger, the new Blue and White party of ex-general Benny Gantz, claimed a more modest victory after winning a 35-seat tie with Likud. Unless he reverses on campaign pledges to shun Netanyahu, and joins him in a future broad coalition, Gantz looked destined to lead a center-left parliamentary opposition.

“The skies may look overcast...but they cannot conceal the sun of hope that we have brought to the Israeli people and society,” Gantz, 59, wrote in an open letter to supporters.

Netanyahu will become the longest-serving Israeli prime minister in July once his coalition is confirmed, overtaking the country’s founding father, David Ben-Gurion. That could be scuppered if criminal charges are filed and force his removal.


Danish troops to return to Al-Asad air base in Iraq on March 1

Updated 17 February 2020

Danish troops to return to Al-Asad air base in Iraq on March 1

  • Denmark’s forces are part of the international coalition fighting Daesh in Iraq and Syria

COPENHAGEN: Denmark said on Monday it will send its military personnel back to the Iraqi Al-Asad base on March 1 to restart training of Iraqi security forces in the fight against Daesh.
The Nordic NATO-member last month removed most of the 130 military personnel it had stationed at the Al-Asad base due to security concerns in the wake of an Iranian missile attack on the air base on Jan 8.
Denmark’s forces at the base are part of the international coalition fighting Daesh in Iraq and Syria.
The Danish defense ministry said on Monday the security situation was now no different than before the attack, which was why it had assessed it would be safe for the Danish soldiers to return to the base.
“In the fight against terror, it is important that Iraq does not again become a hotbed of terrorists’ recruitment and training,” said Defense Minister Trine Bramsen in a statement.
“Therefore, it is important that we resume the training of Iraqi security personnel so they, in the long run, can take care of the security in Iraq themselves,”