Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu doubled down on claiming victory in this week's election, saying on Wednesday that he won among the" Zionist" voters because "Arabs are not part of the equation."
The premier made this statement during a meeting with the leaders of the parties comprising his right-wing bloc. The prime minister had spoken to the party leaders on reports from earlier in the day that members of the center-left bloc were trying to promote a bill that would forbid an indicted individual to serve as prime minister – which would block him from having a chance at assembling a coalition.
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This move is "undermining the foundation of democracy and the voters' will," he claimed.
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"The left-wing bloc is only comprised of 47 seats," the prime minister said as he gestured at a white board on which he had scrawled the division of the votes among the blocs. "The Arabs are not part of this equation because that's the will of the people," he continued.
With virtually all the votes counted, the bloc of parties loyal to Netanyahu has received 58 seats – three short of a majority. The Yisrael Beiteinu party, which is right-wing but refuses to sit in a coalition with the ultra-Orthodox parties, received seven seats. This leaves 55 seats secured by Kahol Lavan, Labor-Gesher-Meretz, and the Joint List. But according to Netanyahu, the "left-wing bloc" consists of Kahol lavan, Labor-Gesher-Meretz, and Yisrael Beiteinu, with a total of 47.
Netanyahu insinuated that his rival Benny Gantz, the leader of Kahol Lavan, was behind the attempts to promote the law that would not let him – following his charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three criminal cases – to try and establish a government.
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"Gantz is trying to steal the election" but "what the people decided is clear. The Zionist right-wing bloc has 58 seats. The Zionist left-wing bloc, together with Lieberman who joined them, has 47 seats. The Joint List who smears Israeli army soldiers and opposes the existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, and who certainly opposes me as the prime minister who promotes our sovereignty in the territories of our homeland, the nation state of the Jewish people – they are not part of the equation. They are not 54 seats. The left-wing bloc, and I repeat this, has 47 seats and not 54 seats like they try to say."
The prime minister stressed that Gantz was "linking up with supporters of terror on the Joint List in an attempt to annul the decision of the people… my friends, myself and millions of citizens who voted for us will not let this happen. Gantz – you lost the election, let this idea go."