Some world leaders congratulate Netanyahu ahead of final vote count; others wait

Old-new PM takes calls from Trump, Pence, Orban and Kurz; Modi tweets in Hebrew; Merkel, May and Macron likely awaiting final results

Raphael Ahren is the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

Illustrative: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks on the phone, March 21, 2019 (Kobi Gideon/GPO)
Illustrative: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks on the phone, March 21, 2019 (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

As the drama over the vote count dragged on in the Knesset, world leaders on Thursday continued to congratulate Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on his election victory, especially those who have a close and personal relationship with him.

As of Thursday evening, Netanyahu had taken congratulatory calls from US President Donald Trump and his VP Mike Pence, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales and Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández.

Honduras recently declared its intention to open a trade mission in Jerusalem, promising to move its embassy to the city as soon as Israel opens a mission in Tegucigalpa.

Netanyahu’s office scheduled additional calls with foreign heads of state for the coming days.

The leaders of countries the prime minister recently touted good ties with, such as Poland, Chad and Russia, have not yet called to congratulate, but are expected to do so either when the final election results are announced, or when the new government is sworn in, which will likely take place in several weeks.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who visited Israel just a few days before Israelis headed to the polls, congratulated the “great leader” Netanyahu in a tweet:

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko issued two tweets on the Israeli elections:

The leaders of France, Britain, Germany are expected to issue congratulations in the near future.

Austria’s Kurz was the first to send good wishes to Jerusalem, tweeting his congratulations “for an excellent showing” on Wednesday around noon. “While the official results have yet not been published, one matter is clear: you have — once again — gained the trust of the people of #Israel in record numbers,” he wrote.

“I am looking forward to working with you in the future, for the benefit of the people of Israel and the people of Austria.”

On Thursday, after his call to the old-new prime minister, Kurz tweeted to Netanyahu again. “We agreed to further strengthen the excellent bilateral relations between Israel and Austria,” he wrote. “We reaffirmed the need to fight all forms of anti-Semitism. I look forward to welcoming PM Netanyahu to Vienna soon.”

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Netanyahu in Hebrew:

“My dear friend Bibi, Congratulations! You are a great friend of India, and I look forward to continuing to work with you to take our bilateral partnership to new heights,” he added in a second tweet.

Milos Zeman, the president of the Czech Republic sent a lengthy congratulatory letter to Netanyahu.

“I am pleased that the Israeli people have confirmed their agreement with your political agenda and renewed your mandate, giving you the opportunity to continue to shape not only Israeli politics but also to participate in regional and international affairs,” he wrote.

“I hope that in the future we will have many opportunities to continue our fruitful cooperation and, last but not least, to fulfill my dream, namely to move the Czech embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.”

The country’s prime minister Andrej Babiš tweeted about Netanyahu’s election win, saying he is keeping his “fingers crossed for him to continue his work as Prime Minister.”

Trump called Netanyahu aboard Air Force One.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu thanked US President Trump for his great support of Israel, including the recognition of Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, as well as for the strong stand against the Iranian regime, including the President’s recent decision against the Iranian Revolutionary Guards,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement Wednesday.

“The two leaders again expressed their appreciation for the abiding friendship between them and their countries. They agreed to continue closely working together in the coming years for both Israel and the United States.”

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