After Israel’s fourth parliamentary election within two years, the formation of a government is uncertain. After counting 65 percent of the vote, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party remained the strongest parliamentary group with 31 seats on Wednesday morning. The future party of opposition leader Yair Lapid came in second with 18 seats. However, the picture can shift significantly until all votes are counted, which is not expected before Friday.
The right-wing religious camp around Netanyahu came to 56 out of 120 seats. The anti-Netanyahu bloc won 57 seats. With seven seats from the settler-friendly Yamina party, Netanyahu’s bloc would have a majority of 63 seats.
Forecasts from three television networks showed a stalemate between the two camps or even a slight advantage for the camp, which Netanyahu plans to replace. A forecast by the TV broadcaster Kanal 13 saw both the camp of potential supporters of Netanyahu and his opponents at 60 seats.
The formation of a government depends on whether the right-wing, settler-friendly Yamina party takes Netanyahu’s side. Its chairman, Naftali Bennett, went into the election campaign with the aim of replacing Netanyahu. However, he has not ruled out entering into a coalition with the latter. Bennett said in a first reaction on election night: “I will only do what is good for the State of Israel.”
Netanyahu spoke of a “huge victory” on Tuesday evening. Netanyahu wrote on Twitter that his Likud party is “an immense distance” ahead of Lapid’s Yesh Atid (There is a future). He thanked the citizens of Israel. “You gave the Right and the Likud a huge victory under my leadership.” It had become clear that a majority of Israelis wanted a “strong and stable right-wing government”.
He also spoke out against another election on Wednesday night and called for the formation of a stable government. He does not exclude anyone as a potential coalition partner, said the 71-year-old. However, a fifth election this year cannot be ruled out.
Because of the corona-related circumstances of the choice, it will take longer this time until a preliminary final result is determined. The counting of the so-called double envelopes with votes from soldiers, diplomats, prisoners and corona patients should not start until Wednesday evening. According to a media report, their number, which was 330,000 in the election a year ago, will almost double this time. This corresponds to around 15 of the 120 mandates.
According to the forecasts, a total of twelve parties jumped the hurdle of 3.25 percent necessary for entry into the Knesset. Most of them had single-digit mandate numbers. According to forecasts, the traditional Workers’ Party won seven seats, while the New Hope party of Netanyahu’s former party colleague Gideon Saar only got six seats. The Islamist Raam (UAL), which was not averse to working with Netanyahu, did not even make it into parliament. For the entire election day, there was little participation in the vote.
Netanyahu has been prime minister since 2009 and is the country’s longest-serving head of government. Many young Israelis don’t know anyone else. In the election campaign, Netanyahu wanted to score points with Israel’s rapprochement with Arab Gulf states. In addition, he presented himself as the originator of the rapid vaccination campaign in the country.
“Netanyahu’s election victory came from the vaccination program,” said the Jerusalem Post, analyzing the election results on Tuesday evening. “Pfizer’s vaccines saved Israel – and inadvertently saved the Prime Minister too.”
Israel has been in a permanent political crisis for more than two years. After two elections in 2019, Netanyahu failed to form a government. After the 2020 election, under the impression of the Corona crisis, he and his Likud formed a coalition with the center alliance Blau-Weiß, but it broke up in December due to a budget dispute.
Following a rocket attack from the Gaza Strip on parliamentary election day, Israel’s army attacked targets in the Palestinian Territory on the Mediterranean on Wednesday night. The army announced that the air force had fired at a military post belonging to the ruling Islamist Hamas and a rocket-making workshop. (what / dpa)
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Count formation government uncertain Israels fourth election years