1. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and wife Sara Netanyahu on stage, fireworks
Kfar Saba, Israel - 11 April 2019
2. SOUNDBITE (English) Aron Heller, The Associated Press:
"Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has secured a fifth term in office paving the path for him to become the longest serving leader in Israeli history.
After a close and at times ugly campaign against retired military chief Benny Gantz, Netanyahu has seen a surge in support for his ruling Likud Party and also a growth for his traditional coalition partners among ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties and other nationalist pro-settlement factions in Parliament. Netanyahu should have no problem in the coming weeks building a another coalition government which will have a solid parliamentary majority. Backed by President Trump and other world leaders Netanyahu should be able to push forward with an even more hardline agenda in his next term in office. During the campaign Netanyahu vowed for the first time to annex Jewish settlements in the West Bank which critics say could essentially end any hope of establishing a Palestinian state alongside Israel. The only thing appearing to stand in Netanyahu's path for another four years and beyond ruling Israel is his precarious legal situation. This whole campaign has taken place under a cloud of suspicions and allegations and potential charges on corruption issues. The attorney general of Israel has recommended indicting Netanyahu on three separate cases of bribes, fraud, breach of trust, other issues. A hearing is expected in the coming months, but barring any unforeseen development on that front Netanyahu has a clear path to continue ruling Israel after the people here have given him another strong mandate. Reporting for The Associated Press. I'm Aron Heller.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's main rival conceded defeat Wednesday, promising to wage a robust battle from the opposition after the ruling Likud party and its nationalist allies won a solid majority in parliamentary elections.
Netanyahu appeared poised for a historic fifth term as prime minister with nearly all the ballots counted from Tuesday's vote. Official final results were expected Thursday.
With 97.4% of the vote counted, Netanyahu's Likud and the rival Blue and White were deadlocked with a projected 35 seats apiece in the 120-seat parliament. But Likud and its traditional political allies were in command of a 65-55 majority in the Knesset, Israel's parliament.
A couple of small parties were still teetering on the electoral threshold and fighting for survival, so the final makeup of the next parliament could still change slightly.
Blue and White, led by former military chief of staff Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid, a former Netanyahu Cabinet minister, got about 26% of the vote - a shade less than Netanyahu's Likud.
The outcome affirmed Israel's continued tilt to the right and further dimmed hopes of a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It also will give Netanyahu an important boost as he braces for the possibility of criminal charges in a series of corruption scandals.