Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Israel elections: 99% of ballots counted; Netanyahu is poised to become the next PM

Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, looks set to return to power, with the latest polling updates on Thursday suggesting he and his right-wing allies have won a clear majority in parliament to The next government can be terminated. Political deadlock is plaguing the country.

With 99 percent of the votes counted, the right-wing bloc led by Netanyahu has taken a comfortable lead with 64 seats in the 120-member Knesset, paving the way for his triumphant return.

Israelis voted on Tuesday for an unprecedented fifth time in four years to break the political impasse that has paralyzed the Jewish nation.

According to the latest updates from the Central Election Committee, Netanyahu’s Likud party will get 31 seats, Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid 24, Religious Judaism 14, National Unity 12, Shas 11 and United Torah Judaism eight .

Among smaller parties that cross the 3.25 percent threshold needed to qualify for representation in the Knesset, or parliament, Yisrael Beiteinu will have six legislators, with Ram’s Hadash-Tal likely to win five seats. According to the update, the Labor Party will be able to win only four seats.

The left-wing Meretz party, which is hovering close to the threshold, has slipped a little further than qualified.

The Arab party Balad, which broke away from the broad coalition of Arab parties to become independent, also appears to have failed the threshold mark.

Meretz’s qualification could reduce the right-wing bloc led by Netanyahu to 61-62 seats.

Balad’s qualifications, as yet highly unlikely, however, will continue to impasse in Israeli politics.

The counting of votes is likely to be over by Thursday afternoon.

The Netanyahu coalition will include 65 MKs (Members of the Israeli Parliament), while the Lapid Bloc will include 50 and Hadash-Tal five.

A Netanyahu-led government would see a sharp drop in the number of women in the coalition.

According to the Times of Israel newspaper, current results project 9 female MKs in parties that support the former prime minister, with none in the ultra-Orthodox factions.

Based on these results, a potential Netanyahu-led coalition would have nine female MKs, six in his Likud party and three from far-right Religious Zionism, although that figure could increase through ministerial appointments.

The result would mark a surprise comeback for Netanyahu, who is currently facing trial on three corruption counts after a short stint in opposition.

Israel has been locked in an unprecedented period of political impasse since 2019, when Netanyahu, the country’s longest-serving leader, was accused of bribery, fraud and breach of trust.

About 6.78 million Israeli citizens were eligible to elect their 25th Knesset.

Around 210,720 new voters were able to vote for the first time, adding an interesting dimension to the voting for around four to five seats.

For many years, Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, appeared to be politically invincible.

But he was dealt a blow after being ousted by an unprecedented coalition of parties whose only common goal was to oust him.

Born in Tel Aviv in 1949, Netanyahu holds the record for the longest tenure as prime minister in the country’s history.

Having previously served in the position between 1996 and 1999, Netanyahu surpassed the record of David Ben-Gurion, one of the Jewish state’s founding leaders, in 2020.


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