After his landslide primary victory to maintain his grip on the right-wing Likud Party, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked President Donald Trump on Friday — and vowed to bring US recognition of Israeli sovereignty in West bank settlements.
“Most people support the right, and most people support me for prime minister,” Netanyahu told supporters a day after he handily defeated main challenger Gideon Sa’ar with 72 percent of the vote for party leader, the Times of Israel reported.
He said the win was a “huge expression of confidence in my path, our path.”
Israel heads to a third round of elections in less than a year on March 2 after Netanyahu failed to form a government coalition in the two previous votes in April and September.
The jubilant premier thanked Trump for his “historic decisions” to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, transfer the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, recognize Israel’s sovereignty in the Golan Heights, and shift US policy to no longer consider the establishment of Israeli settlements in the West Bank as illegal.
Netanyahu also promised “more historic achievements” in the event of a victory in the national elections and laid out an ambitious six-point plan, according to the news outlet.
Netanyahu pledged earlier this year to gradually apply Israeli law to Jewish settlements in the West Bank and said he hoped to do so with support from Washington.
“This is the time to unite, to bring a sweeping victory to the Likud and the right in the Knesset elections,” Netanyahu told reporters Friday about the national elections in March as he fights to stay in office and gain immunity from prosecution on corruption charges.
Netanyahu was indicted last month on serious charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust. His best hope of escaping prosecution is to gain a 61-seat majority in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament.
“The final and sweeping primary decision was a huge expression of trust in my way — in our way,” he said.
The September vote left the Likud in a virtual tie with the centrist Blue and White party led by former army chief of staff Benny Gantz.
Neither managed to form a majority with their natural allies, and they were unable to form a national unity government partly because Blue and White refused to accept an indicted prime minister.
Polls indicate next year’s vote would produce a similar outcome, rounding out more than a year of uncertainty in which Netanyahu — Israel’s longest-serving prime minister — has led a caretaker government.
Meanwhile, Israel’s Supreme Court plans to meet next week to consider whether an indicted member of parliament can be prime minister.
Originally posted at nypost.com