It's official: former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is returning to power after his alliance of far right parties won this week's elections.
The Times of Israel confirmed late in the day Thursday: "As the final thousands of votes were being tallied Thursday evening, Prime Minister Yair Lapid called opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu to concede the race and congratulate him on his election victory."
Bibi's conservative coalition is expected to take as many as 65 seats in the 120-member Knesset, a clear and sweeping victory.
"The state of Israel comes before any political consideration," Lapid announced. "I wish Netanyahu success, for the sake of the people of Israel and the State of Israel."
Lapid had been caretaker prime minister since June. Four prior gridlocked elections over a period of three-and-a-half years had failed time and again to produce a final government. Netanyahu is expected to take the highest office once again.
For the Likud party chairman, this will likely result in his third stint as prime minister, after the led the country in the position from 1996 to 1999, and then more recently from 2009 to 2021. He's the longest serving leader in the country's history, having served for 15 years.
Fox News has cited former Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations and likely soon-to-be Knesset member in the new government, Danny Danon, as saying countering Iran will top the agenda for the new Netanyahu administration.
"I think if we will win, if Netanyahu will return to his position as prime minister, we will be able to put the issue of Iran on the front lines and we will expect our colleagues in the U.S. also to address this threat," Danon said.
Meanwhile, speaking of anti-Iran hawks...
It's about to feel like 2018 all over again. But we'll see what Netanyahu's approach to the White House will look like with Biden at the helm, and fewer neocon Republican allies in high positions in Washington.
And the new far-right governing coalition's response to the Ukraine crisis will be interested, at a moment the Ukrainian government is essentially begging for Israeli weapons, especially the Iron Dome anti-air defense system...
Congratulations to @netanyahu on winning the elections. It’s always important to see real democracy in action. 🇺🇦 & 🇮🇱 share common values & challenges that now require effective cooperation. We hope to open a new page in cooperation with the new 🇮🇱 Government for 🇺🇦&🇮🇱 benefit!— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) November 3, 2022