Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tightly secured a path to reelection on Wednesday, with rightist parties set to hand him a parliamentary majority despite a close contest against his main centrist challenger Benny Gantz.

Iran Press/Middle East: With more than 97 percent of votes counted, Netanyahu’s conservative Likud party get control of 65 of the Knesset’s 120 seats and will be named to head the next coalition government - a record fifth term as premier, Reuters reported.

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 Centre-left parliamentary opposition.

The close and often vitriolic contest was widely seen in Israel as a referendum on Netanyahu’s character and record in the face of corruption allegations. He faces possible indictment in three graft cases.

During the campaign, the rival parties accused each other of corruption, fostering bigotry and being soft on security.

Two weeks before the election, US president Donald Trump signed a proclamation, with Netanyahu at his side at the White House, recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights that this regime occupied from Syria in the 1967 war, a decision which face great anger around the world.

On December 2017, Trump recognized Jerusalem al-Quds as the capital of Israel.

In a rare turn during the race towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Netanyahu further alarmed Palestinians by pledging to annex Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank if re-elected. Palestinians seek a state there and in the Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Netanyahu’s pre-election promise was widely seen as an attempt to draw right-wing votes rather than a change of policy. But with Trump’s moves on Jerusalem and the Golan, the prime minister may feel emboldened to advocate for annexation. 101/205

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