A top Palestinian official said Monday initial Israeli election exit polls indicating victory for right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu showed that “annexation” had won.
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said the exit polls by Israeli media showed that “settlement, annexation and apartheid have won the Israeli elections.”
“Netanyahu’s campaign was about the continuation of the occupation and conflict,” Erekat added on Twitter, saying the result would “force the people of the region to live by the sword: continuation of violence, extremism and chaos.”
Netanyahu had pledged to annex the Jordan Valley, a large part of the West Bank, if he won and formed the next government. He repeated the pledge at a victory rally early Tuesday.
Palestinians see the territory as a vital part of their planned future state and have said such annexation would mean an end to the notion of peace on the basis of the two-state solution.
Exit polls immediately after voting ended suggested Netanyahu’s Likud had won between 36 and 37 seats in Israel’s 120-seat parliament, with his centrist rivals Blue and White earning between 32 and 33. Those numbers were still changing, however, as final results were counted into Tuesday.
Naftali Bennett, leader of the nationalist Yamina party, said early Tuesday that the results had secured a victory for a right-wing government that would push ahead with West Bank annexation.
“With God’s help today, the Israeli sovereignty [over the West Bank] government has been established,” Bennett declared at a party rally.
The Hamas terror group dismissed the elections as a choice between “alien settlers,” and said it would not change anything.
“The occupation state will remain a wrathful entity and its elections will not give it any legitimacy on Palestine’s land,” spokesman Hazem Qassim said on Twitter.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.