For the fourth time in two years, Israelis went to the polls yesterday in hopes of establishing a stable government. Official results are not known yet, but it appears Netanyahu’s Likud party has won the most seats, as expected. However, in Israeli government, a political party or a coalition of parties must win a majority (61) of the 120 Knesset seats. Thus, though Likud garnered the most seats, it remains to be seen whether or not Netanyahu can successfully cobble together a coalition.
Based on exit polls, it appears Likud and those committed to join them in coalition have approximately 55 seats, while parties committed to an “anti-Netanyahu” coalition also have approximately 55 seats. It is believed the only non-committed party is Yamina, led by former Netanyahu under-study, Naftali Bennett. Will he agree to serve in coalition with his former mentor, or will he decline to enter a coalition with either side, forcing Israel to an unprecedented fifth election?
Like American elections, we must await final tabulation of ballots…though it is not expected to take weeks, as the American elections did.
Finally, some might ask: Unless you are Israeli, what does it matter? First, though all candidates are committed to Israel’s national defense against Iran and their nuclear ambition, there are differing opinions about who would stand strongest. However, Netanyahu is a proven hard-liner against Iran, and holds far more foreign policy experience than any other candidate. When it comes to the world stage, Netanyahu has established himself as a strong world leader.
On the other hand, in the eyes of some, Netanyahu failed in his initial responses to the COVID outbreak, and is facing various legal challenges. Still others think 14 years as Prime Minister is enough.
If no coalition is formed, Netanyahu will continue as Prime Minister until the next election, but there will be no functioning Israeli government, hamstringing Israel’s ability to move forward with new initiatives.
We’ll have to wait and watch!