Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has fallen short of capturing the majority needed to form a government, near-final election results showed Wednesday, deepening a year of political deadlock and appearing to dash the long-serving leader’s hopes for a decisive victory as his trial on corruption charges nears.
In an angry tirade, Netanyahu conceded that he did not have the parliamentary support to form a new government right away. But he still tried to claim victory as he lashed out at his main opponent and disparaged the leading Arab party — the third largest in parliament — as irrelevant.
“This is what the nation decided,” he said. “The public gave me more votes than any other candidate for prime minister in the nation’s history.”
After failing to form a government following two general elections last year and with his legal woes closing in, Netanyahu had been hoping for a clear win in Monday’s vote. With initial exit polls predicting a near majority for Netanyahu and his nationalist-religious allies, he declared a “great victory” to thousands of jubilant supporters under a torrent of confetti on election night.