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Trump says 'too bad' Israel will have to redo polls

May 30, 2019 at 10:15 pm

President Donald Trump gives his first State of the Union address to Congress and the country in Washington, United States on 30 January, 2018 [Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency]

US President Donald Trump said Thursday it is “too bad” that Israel will have to redo its elections after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was unable to form a coalition government, Anadolu Agency reports.

“It looked like a total win for Netanyahu,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “That is too bad. Because they don’t need this.”

Israel is slated to hold snap elections Sept. 17 after Netanyahu appeared to hold a commanding coalition majority in the Israeli parliament following April’s nationwide polls.

But Netanyahu, who has led Israel for a decade, was unable to overcome infighting after former defense minister Avigdor Lieberman, who heads the right-wing nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party, refused to be part of the governing coalition.

Under Israeli law, Netanyahu, who leads the Likud Party, had until midnight Wednesday local time to form a coalition. The deadline came and passed as Israel’s parliament voted to dissolve itself and set the date for the second national polls of 2019.

READ: The main players in Israel’s next election, the second this year

Trump further commented on Turkey’s decision to release a NASA worker who had been sentenced to over seven years in prison on terrorism-related charges.

Serkan Golge, 39, is a dual US-Turkish citizen whose release Washington had been lobbying for after he was detained in 2016. He was released from custody Wednesday.

Trump thanked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for Golge’s release, saying he and Erdogan “dealt with that”.

Golge, Trump said, will be released from home custody and will be allowed to return to the United States “pretty soon”.

“That’s good news,” he added.

Golge was convicted in February 2018 of belonging to the Fetullah Terrorist Organisation (FETO), which Turkey accuses of being behind a defeated coup attempt in 2016.