Netanyahu Vows to Annex Jewish West Bank Settlements in Last-Minute Election Post

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His remarks were widely seen as an appeal to right-wing voters ahead of what is expected to be a close election on Tuesday.

He added that "people realize that they have to make us the largest party, we are half a meter away from victory but we still need two more mandates". The Israeli public sees little hope in the long-standing worldwide formula for peace - the "two-state solution".

When speaking to reporters afterward, though sounding positive about the ties between the two countries, the former three-term Texas Congressman went a step further, denouncing the prime minister as a "racist".

At the conclusion of a four-day road trip in Iowa that included 17 town halls, 6 neighborhood house parties, and 5 college campuses, Democratic presidential contender Beto O'Rourke, who last November lost the senate race to Republican Ted Cruz, but came close, chose to go after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, possibly because Iowa farmers who wake up every morning to milk their cows are asking themselves if Bibi could beat Gantz, and what are the ramifications of the Israeli elections regarding their grain subsidies. There have been reports of irregularities and suspiciously unregistered votes by the parties.

Gantz, who heads the centrist Blue and White Party, will likely win the support of center-left and left-wing parties, but polls predict he will fall short of a governing majority in parliament.

Jerusalem is a critical issue for Palestinians and the United States move is broadly viewed as an attempt to shape the final status issue in favour of Israel.

No law prevents Netanyahu - who has strongly denied the accusations - from extending his 13 years in office while under indictment or on trial.

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In an interview Monday morning with Channel 12, Netanyahu claimed he did not have enough recommendations from other party leaders for Rivlin to ask him to form a government.

In Gaza, Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri urged Abbas's western-backed Palestinian Authority to halt its security cooperation with Israel in the occupied West Bank.

The leader of the ultra-nationalist, libertarian Zehut party, Moshe Feiglin, could emerge as a kingmaker in future coalition talks, with polls suggesting it could take at least four seats.

"He's unprecedentedly gifted. He's a competent political maneuverer and the most effective political communicator in Israel's history", said Yohanan Plesner, president of the Israel Democracy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank.

The population in Israeli settlements number just over 400,000 Israeli Jews. Last month, Trump reversed decades of U.S. policy when he announced his decision to recognise Israeli sovereignty over the disputed territory of the Golan Heights ― a move widely seen as boosting Netanyahu's chances at the polls.

"I am in favor of annexing it for the State of Israel", said Ma'ale Adumin resident Israel Yehezkel.

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