The election drama in Israel unfolded into the late hours of the night in what became an historic vote as the nation posted a 21st century record turnout among voters of 71%, a participation rate not seen since 1999.
Prime Minister ‘Bibi’ Netanyahu was well behind in the polls running up to election day, and many analysts were already predicting that he would meet with an end to his long political career.
But with 99% of the votes counted it was clear that Netanyahu’s Likud Party had won 30 seats in the Israeli Knesset to the 24 won by his opponent’s party despite a push by outside interests to force a flip in control.
The news of Netanyahu’s victory almost guarantees continued tension in the U.S.-Israeli relations on the heels of the battle in DC ahead of Bibi’s address to Congress over the protest of the White House earlier this month.
The reality was underscored by an unnamed White House official who admitted of fellow Democrats’ attitude toward Netanyahu and the election, “They hate him, they should, and they’re praying that he is out of power.”
Netanyahu’s victory comes as salt in the wound after it was revealed that former Obama campaign adviser Jeremy Bird was helping lead an Israeli campaign organization to defeat Likud, having partnered with a pro-Palestinian, DC-based organization that has received federal funds in the past.