Netanyahu extends lead slightly in final election count

Adjust Comment Print

This would firm up Israel's unilateral hold on them and dig the country into a position that could preclude any Palestinian state. They each won 35 seats.

Netanyahu's pledge was widely seen as an appeal to the far right, and it appears to have worked: he boosted the number of parliamentary seats for his Likud, while smaller, far-right parties struggled.

The final count showed another nationalist faction, the New Right party of Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, falling just short of the necessary 3.25% of the votes needed to get into parliament.

Shuaib said that the attempt to gain more voices for Netanyahu was felt when Trump moved the embassy to Jerusalem, which was followed by the US recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Syrian Golan Heights. Both the Ashkenazi Yahadut Hatorah party (United Torah Judaism) and the Shas (Sephardic Guardians of the Torah) have obtained eight seats, increasing their representation by two and one, respectively. But for Bennett, whose influence was crucial to the stability of Netanyahu's government in recent months, and who had increasingly presented himself in the role of global statesman, this is a steep fall from grace.

In light of the numbers, which once again confirm the impossibility of a monochrome government, the formation of a new ministerial cabinet is open to a range of possibilities.

Netanyahu now needs to form a governing coalition with at least 61 members in Israel's 120-seat parliament, or the Knesset. Assuming he can tie up coalition negotiations, he should become Israel's longest serving leader at some point over the summer. This means that Netanyahu has more allies on the right of the political spectrum with which he can form a coalition.

Israel's attorney general has signaled that he's preparing to file corruption charges against Netanyahu.

The series of political gifts Donald Trump has given his main ally in the Middle East, clearly aimed at strengthening his political options, takes on particular relevance in this context.

Palestinians say the United States is far too biased in favor of Israel and they have refused to work with Trump's peace team since the U.S. backed Israel's claim to the city of Jerusalem and moved the U.S. Embassy there.

Netanyahu no doubt expects the acquiesce to his announcement, on the eve of the vote, that Israel will annex parts of the West Bank as well. He said he would annex Jewish settlements in the West Bank - land Israel captured in 1967. Experiences such as these at a young age have caused them to believe that peace can only be achieved by force; something only the right-wing parties can achieve. It added that the four legislators hoped "that any security measures are implemented within the context of preserving the eventual possibility of a two-state solution". In a way it was a referendum about Netanyahu, but we must be aware of the investigations going against him.