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Israel’s Prime Minister desperately struggling to stay in office

Binyamin Netanyahu is down but not out. 

Tel Aviv, Sept.20.– Binyamin Netanyahu spent the last two hours of voting in Israel’s general election on September 17th speaking through a camera to an online audience, begging people to come out and vote for Likud, his ruling party, before it was too late. “All the battles I fought as a soldier in an elite unit, all the battles I fought against a president of the United States [Barack Obama], all my other battles in Congress and at the United Nations—I did it for you. And now I’m asking you for something small. Go the polling station. It’s only a five-minute walk.”

As he wheedled and begged his voice grew hoarser. He took phone-calls from fans. Occasionally he stood up to gesture at a map of the Middle East on the wall, pointing to the menace of Iran. At one point, he mockingly showed puppets of his rivals.

It was a bravura and sometimes bizarre performance of an embattled prime minister, frantic for every last vote. For the first time in over a decade he was staring at defeat. As the results came in, they confirmed that he had failed. Likud and the clutch of right-wing and religious parties backing him would lack a majority in the new Knesset.

On May 30th, seven weeks after the previous election, Mr Netanyahu took the unprecedented step of dissolving the Knesset to call for a second election, since he was just one seat short of a majority in the 120-strong parliament. Now he is short by six.

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