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Netanyahu cancels trip to US as it appears to have failed in Israeli election



Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday canceled a visit to the United Nations General Assembly in New York next week amid political uncertainty in Israel, where it appears to be insufficient for the government's majority in the national elections. Percentage of votes counted, Netanyahu's decade of power seems to be slipping away. His center-right Likud party was expected to win 31 seats, while its main rival, the center-right party Blue and White, was pulling out of the 32 seats, according to the Central Election Commission.

This could give his rivals the Blue and White leader Benny Gantz the first chance to form a new government if he can form a coalition with other parties. But it is unclear whether Gantz will join the Likud party if Netanyahu continues to be its leader.

Both parties appeared to have dropped out of the 61

seats needed to form a governing coalition in the 120-seat parliament, known as the Knesset.

Netanyahu, a close ally of President Donald Trump, participates in the main debate of the UN General Assembly every year, except for one since he rose to power in 2009, The Jerusalem Post reports. In a noteworthy address to the 2012 General Assembly, Netanyahu drew a red line on a cartoon diagram of a bomb, an attempt to illustrate how close he was to claiming Iran had developed a nuclear weapon.

Amid Wednesday afternoon that Netanyahu had canceled his trip to the General Assembly, an Israeli government official told NBC News: "Due to political circumstances, the prime minister is not traveling to UNGA."

Netanyahu was scheduled to speak next Thursday, just three slots behind Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, according to the schedule of the General Assembly. He was also expected to meet Trump on the sidelines of the meeting.

Israel Katz, Foreign Minister of Netanyahu, will speak at the UN seat of the prime minister, according to The Jerusalem Post.

Trump asked by reporters. On Wednesday afternoon, if he had spoken to Netanyahu after the election, he said he had not added: "These results are coming and they are very close. Everyone knew it would be very close. We will see what happens."

He then appeared to distance himself from the Israeli leader, saying, "Look, our relationship is with Israel. We'll see what happens."

The stakes are high for Netanyahu, who could potentially be indicted in three corruption cases. If he remains prime minister, Netanyahu may be able to pass legislation that gives him immunity. But if he loses, he may have to appear in court and even face prison.

The result could also have huge consequences for the Middle East in a time of new tensions between the US and Iran.

Gantz, a former army chief of staff, campaigning with the promise of pure government and social harmony. He called for peace with the Palestinians while maintaining Israeli security.

Josh Lederman, Sophora Smith, and Paul Goldman [19659018] contributed.


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