Netanyahu Celebrates Election Victory: I Am Not Afraid of the Media

Prime minister dismisses criticism over possible appointment of confrontational justice minister, calls it 'threats'

Netanyahu gives his victory speech at the Jerusalem Convention Center, April 16, 2019.
Emil Salman

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised on Tuesday to be an inclusive prime minister for both Jews and non-Jews, but said that "some have not internalized the result of the election."

In a speech celebrating his election victory, Netanyahu said: "I want all parts of Israeli society, Jews and non-Jews as one, to be an integral part of the tremendous success story known as the State of Israel."

Speaking in Jerusalem, Netanyahu referred to commentators in the media who warned against appointing Likud lawmaker Yariv Levin, who promises to overhaul the justice system, to the position of justice minister. "I am not afraid of the media," he said.

"That's what they call democracy and that's what they call the rule of law, but every time we give them a lesson in democracy," the prime minister said.

>> Read more: It all comes down to Lieberman | Opinion ■ Netanyahu may have won, but Israel's political landscape has fundamentally changed | Anshel Pfeffer ■ The second winner of the Israeli election | Opinion ■ Unity government? No, thanks | Opinion

Later on in his speech, Netanyahu said that he received congratulations from the leaders of Muslim and Arab countries. "I see here a big opening for the future," Netanyahu said. "It is our aim to continue this period of achievement in economy, foreign relations, security and in our deepening relationships with the Arab world."

A final count of the votes cast in last week's election released Tuesday gave Likud one less seat than in previously published results, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is still set to form the next government after 65 lawmakers recommended that he build a coalition.

Likud ended up with 35 seats, as did Kahol Lavan, the party led by Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid.

United Torah Judaism gained a seat compared to last week's results, putting its final count at eight. The rest of the parties held on to the same number of seats: Shas with eight, Hadash-Ta'al with six, Labor with six, Yisrael Beiteinu with five, Union of Right-Wing Parties with five, and four each for Meretz, Balad-United Arab List and Kulanu.

President Reuven Rivlin is expected to task Netanyahu with forming the next government after a majority of 65 lawmakers recommended the premier to build the next coalition.

Once Rivlin announces his decision, Netanyahu will have 28 days to form a government. Should an extension be required, the president may approve an additional 14 days.