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'I don't know of any defeat'

GOP chief in Israel refuses to accept Biden’s win: ‘Waiting for legal process’

Marc Zell repeats Trump’s claims of election fraud, asserts Netanyahu congratulated US president-elect ‘just in case’; former ambassador Shapiro says ‘no chance’ incumbent can win

Marc Zell, the head of Republicans Overseas Israel, at an event in Jerusalem, October 26, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Marc Zell, the head of Republicans Overseas Israel, at an event in Jerusalem, October 26, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The chairman of the US Republican Party in Israel, Marc Zell, said Sunday he did not accept Joe Biden’s US presidential election win, and claimed Prime Minister Netanyahu’s statement congratulating the Democrat had come just because “he needs to defend Israel’s interests in case Biden wins.”

Biden was widely projected Saturday to defeat US President Donald Trump after days of closely watched ballot-counting in a number of battleground states.

After a conspicuously long delay, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin issued statements early Sunday morning congratulating Biden.

Zell in recent days repeatedly voiced support on Twitter for Trump’s unsubstantiated allegations of mass voter fraud. On Sunday Zell doubled down, refusing to accept the election results in a conversation with right-wing radio station Galey Israel.

“I don’t know of any defeat and I don’t accept the media’s announcements, including Fox News who were against Trump,” Zell said. “I am waiting for the legal process. You’ll see Arizona will go back to Trump.”

In a separate interview with Army Radio, Zell said: “The electoral system was flawed. In Pennsylvania, the most important state, they got hundreds of thousands of illegal ballots which came after election day. If the Supreme Court hears our appeal, it could flip the state.”

So far no credible evidence has been presented to back up claims of mass fraud by Trump and some of his allies and supporters.

Former US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro on Sunday told Kan Bet radio there was “no chance” to reverse the election result.

Shapiro, who served as ambassador under the Obama administration, said that while it was okay for Trump to challenge the election results, there was “no chance to reverse the results in four states,” noting some of the states had considerable gaps between the candidates.

Shapiro also said the next administration will once again make the establishment of a Palestinian state a priority.

Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin both congratulated Biden on Sunday morning, as did Defense Minister Benny Gantz, who shares power with Netanyahu in the coalition.

Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid was the first Israeli politician to congratulate Biden on Saturday evening. He criticized the country’s top leadership for its delay in sending well-wishes to Biden, calling it “cowardly and shameful” and saying it “hurts Israeli interests.”

Zell on Tuesday claimed that some 150,000 absentee ballots were cast by US citizens living in Israel. Eight in 10 of those votes were for the Republican incumbent, he speculated, based on an unproven claim of 80 percent support for Trump among Israelis.

In fact, a recent survey from the Israel Democracy Institute found 63 percent of Israelis thought Trump was better for Israel.

“Trump re-scripted the whole political dynamic, taking the focus off of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and placing it on the real threat which is Iran,” Zell said.

During his time in office, Trump has taken a number of moves welcomed by Israel — beginning with his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and the subsequent move of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Trump also recognized Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights, has taken a softer line toward Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank and recently brokered diplomatic pacts between Israel and three Arab countries.

Republicans Overseas Israel estimates there are 300,000 US citizens living in Israel.

Raphael Ahren contributed to this report.  

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