Israel final vote results give Netanyahu additional seat

The Israeli parliament holds 120 seats. (File/AFP)
Updated 25 September 2019

Israel final vote results give Netanyahu additional seat

  • Netanyahu’s Likud got 32 seats in the 120-seat parliament
  • Israeli Arab parties won collectively 13 seats

JERUSALEM: Israel’s election committee published final results from last week’s election on Wednesday that gave Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud an additional seat, but which did not change the deadlock the country faces.
The final results from the September 17 vote gave the rightwing Likud 32 seats compared to Benny Gantz’s centrist Blue and White’s 33 in the 120-seat parliament.
The two parties are in the process of trying to negotiate a unity coalition, and President Reuven Rivlin has one week to name someone to form a government.
Likud’s additional seat came at the expense of one of Israel’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties, United Torah Judaism, which now has seven.
Israel’s Arab parties, running together under the Joint List alliance, finished as the third-largest force in parliament with 13 seats.
Netanyahu has received the endorsement of 55 parliament members to be prime minister, while Gantz has received 54.
Neither has a clear path to a majority coalition.
Rivlin, who will formally receive the results later Wednesday, has leaned heavily on Gantz and Netanyahu to work out a unity coalition between them, including in a joint meeting on Monday.
Rivlin is due to host the two for a follow-up meeting on Wednesday night.
A rotation arrangement has been floated, but the question of who would be premier first remains a major stumbling block.
The timing is especially important for Netanyahu, who is facing possible corruption charges in the weeks ahead pending a hearing set for early October.
A prime minister does not have to step down if indicted — only if convicted with all appeals exhausted — while other ministers can be forced to do so when charged.


Lebanon repatriates nationals in rare flights despite virus

Updated 28 min 20 sec ago

Lebanon repatriates nationals in rare flights despite virus

  • Health personnel in protective gear took the temperature of disembarking passengers
  • Authorities said more than 20,000 had signed up to be repatriated in total this week and at the end of the month

BEIRUT: Lebanon on Sunday started repatriating nationals stranded abroad in its first flight in weeks since it closed its international airport to stem the novel coronavirus.
The first of four planes touched down at the Beirut international airport late Sunday morning bringing in 78 passengers from Riyadh, local television reported.
It showed health personnel in protective gear taking the temperature of disembarking passengers.
The Mediterranean country announced a lockdown and closed its airport on March 18 as part of measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, which has officially infected 527 people and killed 18 nationwide.
An AFP photographer saw a dozen buses outside the airport waiting to transport the passengers.
Prime Minister Hassan Diab had arrived earlier amid heavy deployment of the Lebanese army, he said.
Authorities said more than 20,000 had signed up to be repatriated in total this week and at the end of the month.
Lebanese carrier Middle East Airlines has said flights would also land in Beirut on Sunday from Abu Dhabi, Lagos and Abidjan.
It has also announced return trips to Paris, Madrid and Kinshasa on Tuesday.
Lebanese returning home must either test negative for the virus no longer than three days before their return, or be tested immediately upon arrival, according to government guidelines.
They must pay for their own ticket and their families are not allowed to meet them at the airport.
The government has said priority will be given to those with critical health conditions such as diabetes or cancer, those aged over 60 and under 18, and families.
But critics have complained of steep ticket fares, while a financial crisis has severely restricted transactions from Lebanese bank accounts.
Coronavirus is the latest crisis to hit Lebanon, which is already reeling under a crumbling economy.
Due to an acute liquidity crisis, banks have since September increasingly been restricting access to dollars and have halted money transfers abroad.
On Monday, however, the banking association agreed to allow dollar transfers to Lebanese students outside the country to help them face the coronavirus pandemic, the finance ministry said.
Diab on Sunday told reporters the government was studying the possibility of supporting returning Lebanese students with a ticket.
Lebanese expatriates and activists have clamoured online for MEA to lower the price of its tickets and help those who can’t afford it.
The airline on Friday claimed tickets were more expensive — $650 for an economy class seat from Riyadh and $1,800 for a cheaper fare from Abidjan for example — because planes would be empty on the way out to evacuations.