It looks like Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is still going to be prime minister, having fought off a serious challenge from Benny Gantz. Netanyahu celebrated his projected win Tuesday night with scores of supporters who were waving President Trump flags, aware of their longtime friendship.
"He's a great ally and he's a friend," Trump acknowledged outside the White House Wednesday. "I congratulate him."
Ambassador John Bolton told Hugh Hewitt Wednesday morning that the administration was pleased with Netanyahu's projected win, in part because he has been a steady force in the fight against Iranian aggression.
"The struggle against Iran’s efforts to subvert peace and security in the region continues," Bolton said. "And Netanyahu will play a big, big part in that, along with President Trump."
It was a much different atmosphere at MSNBC, where Chris Matthews did not take Netanyahu's expected victory well. He was deeply disturbed by Trump's supposed role in Netanyahu's re-election, citing recent policy decisions such as moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, and declaring Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
President Trump has forged no deeper political bond than the one he has with Benjamin Netanyahu and right now, it’s unclear if Trump’s push to get him reelected has paid off.... [A]lways, our president from Eisenhower — from all the way up to W....they’ve always played this other role as honest broker in the region so they can bring peace and play a bigger global role than just being buddies with Israel. This President has ignored his global role, ignored the role — forfeited that of peace maker or honest broker and just played political sidekick of Bibi.
Matthews said Trump's apparent intervention in Israeli elections was unprecedented, but did not mention how President Obama's State Department gave grant money to OneVoice, an Israeli political group and opponent of Netanyahu. While the grant money was first intended to help with the Middle East peace process, it was then used to actively oppose Netanyahu.
Victory 15 used voter contacts and activists funded by the State Department grant for One Voice to oppose Netanyahu, the report finds, which was not prohibited because there was restriction on how the peace process infrastructure could be used after the grant expired in 2014.
“Despite OneVoice’s previous political activism in the 2013 Israeli election, the Department failed to take any steps to guard against the risk that OneVoice could engage in political activities using State-funded grassroots campaign infrastructure after the grant period,” the report found.
Netanyahu may have a win on his hands, but he now has to form a coalition government.