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Bibi back in the game as Israel PM

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid's office say he has congratulated Benjamin Netanyahu following this week's election.

Former prime minister Benjamin 'Bibi' Netanyahu has won this week's Israeli election, final results show, clearing the way for him to return to power.

Prime Minister Yair Lapid congratulated Netanyahu and instructed his staff to prepare an organised transition of power, his office said:

"The state of Israel comes before any political consideration. 
"I wish Netanyahu success, for the sake of the people of Israel and the state of Israel."

Lapid, who has served as interim prime minister for the past four months, made the announcement just before the final results were released showing Netanyahu securing a parliamentary majority with his religious and ultranationalist allies.

Israel held its fifth election in four years on Tuesday. According to the final results, which still need to be certified in the coming days, Netanyahu and his ultranationalist and ultra-Orthodox allies captured 64 seats in Israel's 120-seat parliament, or Knesset. 

His opponents in the current coalition, led by Lapid, won 51 seats, with the remainder held by a small unaffiliated Arab party.

Netanyahu's victory and his comfortable majority puts an end to Israel's political instability, for now.  However, Israelis remain split over their leadership and the values that define their state: Jewish or democratic.

Netanyahu's top partner in the government is expected to be the Religious Zionism party, whose main candidate, Itamar Ben-Gvir wants to end Palestinian autonomy in parts of the West Bank. Ben-Gvir wants to be put in charge of the country's police force.

Religious Zionism has promised to enact changes to Israeli law that could make Netanyahu's legal woes disappear and, along with other nationalist allies, they want to weaken the independence of the judiciary and concentrate more power in the hands of MPs. The party's leader, Bezalel Smotrich, a West Bank settler, has his sights set on the Defence Ministry. That would make him the overseer of the military and Israel's West Bank military occupation.


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