World Reacts to Israel's Choice of Netanyahu for a Fourth Term

Prominent figures from across the political spectrum in the U.S. and international community weighed in.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a speech next to his wife Sara as he reacts to exit poll figures in Israel's parliamentary elections late on March 17, 2015.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a speech next to his wife Sara as he reacts to exit poll figures in Israel's parliamentary elections late on March 17, 2015.Credit: AFP

After Israel voted to give Benjamin Netanyahu the chance to form a government for a fourth term as prime minister, prominent figures from across the political spectrum in the U.S. and international community weighed in.

For now, U.S. President Barack Obama has stayed mum. That might not be surprising since not much political love has been lost between the president and the Israeli prime minister.

For now, Secretary of State John Kerry called to congratulate Netanyahu. And White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said, according to USA Today, that "I do anticipate that the president will call Prime Minister Netanyahu in the coming days."

Earnest did, however, make clear that the White House would "reevaluate our position" regarding Mideast peace based on Netanyahu's comments in the run-up to the election against the two-state solution.

Earnest also slammed Netanyahu for urging his supporters to go and vote Tuesday with a warning that his rule was in danger because "the Arabs are voting in droves." Earnest said the Obama administration "is deeply concerned by the use of divisive rhetoric in Israel that sought to marginalize Arab Israeli citizens."

Speaker of the House John Boehner, the Ohio Republican, meanwhile, tweeted "heartfelt congratulations" to Netanyahu. "Looking forward to continuing the strong bond between Israel & America."

That's not surprising either. It was Boehner who with Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer organized Netanyahu's March 3 speech to Congress. In so doing, Boehner and Dermer declined to coordinate the invitation with Obama, prompting a diplomatic kerfuffle in Washington.

UN's Ban: Create Palestinian state

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, quoted by the Associated Press, called for the new government to negotiate a final peace agreement that will create "a viable Palestinian state."

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, the Tennessee Republican, was quoted by The Wall Street Journal as saying, “We look forward to continuing to build on our mutual interests." Corker wrote a bill that would require Congress to sign off on any final deal with Iran.

Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic senator from California, said, according to the Voice of America, "I respect the results that they have produced. I think that what they have produced will be a continued lively discussion about the peace process."

Another Democratic senator, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut was quoted by VoA as saying that no bad feelings from Netanyahu’s speech lingered. "All of us are simply looking forward to trying to stop a nuclear-armed Iran and make sure we pursue common goals of peace and civility in the Middle East," he said.

Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida, younger brother of former President George W. Bush and potential Republican candidate for president, said in a tweet picked up by the Christian Science Monitor that Netanyahu is "a true leader who will continue to keep Israel strong and secure."

Two former Republican state governors, Mike Huckabee of Arkansas and Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, who both are also mulling running for president, called on the White House to stand with Israel, according to Fox News.

Santorum said he hoped Obama and Netanyahu would join to "defeat this radical Islamist enemy and ensure Iran never develops a nuclear weapon," Fox reported.

Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper tweeted that Canada is looking forward to working with the Israeli government, once it is formed. "Israel has no greater friend than Canada," Harper tweeted.

In the Mideast, however, Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator in peace talks with Israel that collapsed last year, lamented "the success of a campaign based on settlements, racism, apartheid and the denial of the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people," Reuters reported.

The Palestinians join the International Criminal Court on April 1 and plan to pursue war-crimes charges against Israel there.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham, quoted by the country's Press TV, said the Israeli parties "are the same and they are all accomplices in their crimes against the Palestinians and in their acts of aggression.”

India's Modi: Warm regards

From India, which has been strengthening its relations with Israel, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, in both Hebrew and English, his congratulations to "my friend Bibi Netanyahu. Recall our New York meeting last September warmly."

In Europe, the BBC reported, European Union foreign-policy chief Federica Mogherini congratulated Netanyahu. She said the EU was "committed to working with" the new government and to relaunch the Israel-Palestinian peace process.

Netanyahu has reversed course and said that he would ensure that a Palestinian state isn't established on his watch.

And the Guardian picked up a tweet from Sarah Sackman, who is the U.K. Labor Party candidate in London’s Finchley and Golders Green, areas with one of the highest Jewish populations in the U.K.

Sackman tweeted that she was "[deflated] & disappointed that Bibi's fear-mongering, anti-Arab attacks & failure to tackle israelis econ issues won the day. Blow for peace."



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