International Media: Netanyahu Wins Big, Leading Israel to Isolation

The New York Times editorial criticizes Netanyahu for adding to the 'ugliness of the campaign'; British, German and French outlets also touch on prime minister's scare tactics.

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Israeli election coverage on the Guardian website
Israeli election coverage on the Guardian website

The Israeli election results garnered extensive coverage in international media outlets, with many in Europe and the U.S. devoting their top headlines to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's victory.

The New York Times covered not only the news, but also used its editorial to criticize Netanyahu and his campaign, saying the election turned ugly.

"Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s outright rejection of a Palestinian state and his racist rant against Israeli Arab voters on Tuesday showed that he has forfeited any claim to representing all Israelis," the paper wrote, adding later, "Mr. Netanyahu showed that he was desperate, and craven, enough to pull out all the stops."

"Mr. Netanyahu added to the ugliness of the campaign when, during Tuesday’s voting, he said in a video on social media: 'Right-wing rule is in danger. Arab voters are streaming in huge quantities to the polling stations.' This outrageous appeal to hard-line voters implied that only he could save Israel from its enemies, including the country’s Arab citizens, who represent 20 percent of the population and have long been discriminated against," the editorial went on.

It said that "Netanyahu resorted to fear-mongering and anti-Arab attacks while failing to address the issues that Israelis said they were most worried about, namely the high cost of housing and everyday living in Israel."

Meanwhile, Britain's Guardian also made reference to Netanyahu's fearmongering and anti-Arab statements, and also reported on Isaac Herzog's concession to Netanyahu.

BBC Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen tweeted, "In the end #Netanyahu scored a much bigger victory than incorrect polls suggested. Showed his political skill, and mastery of scare tactics." He also tweeted that "Netanyahu's relations with Obama White House and EU will be even icier if he keeps campaign promises on settlements and a Palestinian state."

The Washington Post's headline declared "Netanyahu wins decisive victory in Israeli election" while pointing out that it was a tough race for Netanyahu and his Likud party.

German news outlet Der Spiegel didn't mince words, using the headline "Victory of panic" to describe the Israeli election outcome. Its coverage surmised that Israel would pay a steep price for Netanyahu's victory, namely international isolation.

Russia's Kommersant wrote that Israel remained loyal to Netanyahu, but questioned whether he would manage to stay in power.

French newspapers including Le Figaro, Liberation and Le Monde also covered Netanyahu's victory with the latter devoting some coverage to Israel's housing crisis, among other topics. Right-leaning Le Figaro, meanwhile, dubbed Netanyahu the eternal "comeback kid."

A short time after results of the exit polls were announced on Israeli television, The Economist ran a profile of Moshe Kahlon, calling him the "kingmaker" and writing that a "former car-radio salesman may hold the key to a fourth term for [Benjamin] Netanyahu."

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