Trump calls Netanyahu to congratulate him on victory
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Trump calls Netanyahu to congratulate him on victory

PM thanks US president for his support of Israel, including recognition of Golan and strong stance against Iran

US President Donald Trump, left, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem on May 23, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
US President Donald Trump, left, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem on May 23, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

US President Donald Trump called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to congratulate him on his election victory on Wednesday.

Trump sent his best wishes to Netanyahu and the Israeli public from Air Force One, the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.

During the call, Netanyahu thanked Trump for his support of Israel, including his recent recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights and his decision to declare Iran’s Revolutionary Guards a terrorist group.

The two also spoke about their deep ties and the US-Israel bilateral relationship, the statement said. Trump was flying from Washington to Texas.

Earlier Wednesday, Trump said Netanyahu’s victory would improve the chances of success for his administration’s much-anticipated peace plan.

“I think we have a better chance now that Bibi has won,” Trump told reporters on the White House South Lawn, using Netanyahu’s nickname. “The fact that Bibi has won, I think we’ll see some pretty good actions in terms of peace.”

“Everybody said you can’t have peace in the Middle East with Israel and Palestinians. I think we have a chance and I think we now have a better chance,” the US president added.

The White House has said it would release its peace proposal following the elections in Israel, though a report on Israeli television earlier this week said the exact timing would be dependent on the outcome of the vote.

With over 97 percent of ballots counted, and his Likud party and fellow right-wing and religious parties poised to secure a clear majority of Knesset seats, Netanyahu emerged from Tuesday’s elections in the best position to muster a coalition.

“I’d like to congratulate Bibi Netanyahu. It looks like that race has been won by him. It may be a little early but I’m hearing he’s won it and won it in good fashion,” Trump said.

Calling Netanyahu a “great ally” and a “friend,” Trump said the Israeli elections were “a well fought out race.”

The comments from Trump came as a steady stream of congratulations from largely right-wing world leaders poured in following Netanyahu’s victory.

Austria’s Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, far-right Italian deputy PM Matteo Salvini, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis and President of the Republic of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades all congratulated Netanyahu.

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