Netanyahu Hails Election Victory as 'Immense Feat Facing Biased Media'

PM addressed Likud activists in a Tel Aviv speech after exit polls were published, thanking voters and his family and announcing he intends to form the next coalition

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu greets supporters at his Likud Party headquarters in Tel Aviv, April 10, 2019.
Jack Guez/AFP

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced himself the big victor of Israel's 2019 election on Tuesday night in a celebratory speech he made in front of Likud activists in Tel Aviv.

"I started holding talks with the heads of the right-wing parties, our natural partners, tonight. Almost everyone publicly declared that they would recommend me [to President Reuven Rivlin] to form the next government. I intend to finish the task quickly in order to establish a stable national government," he said.

Netanyahu thanked his voters, calling the victory reflected in Tuesday night's exit polls an "immense feat, almost inconceivable… faced with biased media, under impossible conditions, the Likud grew dramatically!"

The premier also clarified that "this will be a right-wing government, but I intend to be the prime minister of all of Israel's citizens, right and left, Jews and non-Jews alike."

>> Read more: Netanyahu's incitement against Arabs in 2015 proved a big success in Israel's 2019 election | Noa Landau ■ 12 takeaways from Israel's looniest election that Netanyahu seems to have won | Chemi Shalev ■ If Netanyahu wins, it's time we admit: Israel has become a dictatorship | Bradley Burston

Netanyahu also said that "immense feats were achieved by us, it's not always published. But the public is smart, the public knows this."

He cautioned that his next government is facing "serious challenges – in society, in the economy, [facing the world], with normalization toward peace with the Arab world. I am certain that with joint forces we can overcome all of these challenges, and ask to thank all of you from the bottom of my heart."

Supporters of the Israeli Likud party celebrate as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu waves to them at its headquarters in Tel Aviv, April 9, 2019.
Jack Guez/AFP

Netanyahu also thanked his family and his wife Sara, who stood alongside him on stage and shared a kiss. "I wish to thank my beloved wife Sara and my beloved sons Yair and Avner. I want to tell my family: How much suffering you have gone through. How much evil you tolerated, only because you are my supportive and loving family. And you, the people of Israel, are the pillar of support of my life."

Both United Torah Judaism and Shas, two ultra-Orthodox parties, stated after exit polls were published that their chiefs – Yaakov Litzman and Arye Dery – spoke to Netanyahu and told him that they would recommend him to Rivlin for the task of composing the next governing coalition.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon told activists in his Kulanu party that Netanyahu called him and "we agreed to meet after true results are published. Not even a minute before."

The latest vote tally, which stands at 95 percent of the votes, indicates that both Likud and Kahol Lavan each get 35 Knesset seats, while the right-wing bloc snags a total of 65 seats – clearing Netanyahu's path to victory.