Israel Election: How Local and International Media Covered

Associated Press

Haaretz calls Benjamin Netanyahu's win "decisive" but also highlighted his "campaign of fear and loathing," while English-language papers in the Mideast focused more on other stories.

With Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu winning Tuesday's elections, he is expected to form a new government and serve his fourth term.

Newspapers and news networks around the world on Wednesday morning reacted to the election results, which came after early polls were too close to call.

Reuters spoke of a "surprise" result, while the Associated Press spoke of a "resounding" victory for the man nicknamed "Bibi" and the New York Times of a "clear and sound" win.

In Israel itself, the Jerusalem Post called the election win "sweeping," and Haaretz called it "decisive." The latter also highlighted "Netanyahu’s election campaign of fear and loathing."

Writer Chemi Shalev in Haaretz argued that Netanyahu’s victory comes at a big international price. "The term “to burn your bridges” comes from the days of Roman conquests, when generals such as Julius Caesar would burn the bridges and set fire to the boats on which their soldiers traveled, in order to prevent them from contemplating retreat," the commentator wrote. "Without the bridges and boats, of course, it was very difficult to resupply the legions after the battle had been won. Today, if you burn your bridges, you are severing contacts that you might very well need somewhere down the line. That’s what Benjamin Netanyahu did on the way to his surprise victory over Isaac Herzog on Tuesday."

The writer added: "Netanyahu burned his bridges with the Arab minority with racially tinged Election Day exhortations hitherto reserved for rabble rousers to his right. He set fire to the ships that carry the load of Israel’s ties to the international community, especially the Obama administration, when he suddenly reneged on his agreement in principle to a Palestinian state."

The Jerusalem Post wrote: "Hope and frustration abound with historic election results in Arab community. After surprising win, Netanyahu's first call should be to the White House."

Netanyahu succeeded in mobilizing those alarmed by the prospect of a victory by opponents on the political left, the paper's Gil Hoffman wrote. "Many who considered staying home or for voting for one of the Likud’s satellite parties hurried to the polling stations to cast ballots for Likud," he wrote. "People who have not voted-in years, or at least not for Likud, felt the need to save Israel from the Left, Iran and from a hostile international community."

In Lebanon, The Daily Star said that the result showed Palestinians that Israeli voters "chose occupation, not talks."

The English-language newspaper quoted Palestine Liberation Organization official Yasser Abed Rabbo, who said: "Israel chose the path of racism, occupation and settlement building, and did not choose the path of negotiations and partnership between us." Otherwise, coverage in English-language papers in the Mideast was scant.

The New York Times online used the headline "Netanyahu Soundly Defeats Chief Rival." It also highlighted "Deep Wounds and Lingering Questions After a Bitter Race" and predicted "an uneasy coalition."

The Times of London went with the headline "Right-wing appeal keeps Bibi in power," while the Guardian titled "Netanyahu scores dramatic victory after late surge in support."

The latter's Peter Beaumont wrote: "The failure of Israel’s pollsters to predict the surge to Netanyahu was striking. Taking the worst case scenario for Likud on Friday - when polls closed - and the final result, pollsters were adrift by 10 seats out of 120, an error of over 8 percent. Even the exit polls, which had Netanyahu and Herzog tied at 27 seats each, appeared - in their spread - to have missed the real voting trends by some 5 percent."

He added: "Netanyahu might head up the next government but even he must know that he is not a leader of all of Israel as he has tried to claim. That will increase pressure on him to persuade Moshe Kahlon, the former Likud minister turned leader of the centrist Kulanu party who campaigned on socio-economic issues, to join his coalition."

In Germany, violent, anti-capitalist demonstrations in Frankfurt and heightened tensions between Germany and Greece over bailout negotiations stole the headlines from the Israeli election.

Weekly Die Zeit ran an editorial with the title "You Can't Make a State With Netanyahu," saying he won partly because he said no to a Palestinian state, with which he shouldn't get away.

The Sueddeutsche Zeitung used the headline "The One-Man Show Continues" and said Netanyahu spoke of a big victory for the Israeli people. "That's hardly the case," the paper's editorial said. "The prime minister deeply divided Israel over the past six years."

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung spoke of the "Surprise Winner Netanyahu." "The election campaign of fear worked," it said. "President Reuven Rivlin will have no choice but to ask the Likud boss to form a government."

In Italy, La Repubblica titled "Netanyahu Comes Back and Wins," while the Corriere went with the headline "Israel Remains on the Right: Netanyahu wins."

In Spain, El Pais also spoke of "a surprise victory" and said Herzog brought the Labor Party "back into the limelight." El Mundo echoed: "Netanyahu surprises with a clear victory over Herzog in Israel. After polls showed a technical tie between Likud and Zionist Camp, the results show a surprising six seat difference in favor of Likud."

In India, The Hindustan Times ran this headline: "Israel elections: Netanyahu’s ‘back’ and what’s in it for India." Its story suggested that the result was "unlikely to change India-Israel ties."