Election in Israel: Netanyahu with Chance of New Term | Free press

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Jerusalem (AP) – Benjamin Netanyahu lists everything on Election Day. The prime minister has once again announced direct flights between Israel and Mecca in Saudi Arabia via Twitter.

His calculation is clear: the 71-year-old wants to remain head of government, so he can still use the favor of Arab voters or MPs.

But at night, predictions show that this isn’t even necessary: ​​Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party emerged as the strongest force in the parliamentary election – the fourth in two years. You will lose seats in the Knesset accordingly. The alliance of right-wing and religious parties sought by Netanyahu can still reach a narrow majority of 61 out of 120 MPs.

To do this, he would have to rely on the support of a controversial far-right party. At the same time, a major rival has to take his side. Naftali Bennett and his colony-friendly Jamina company could play the role of kingmaker for him. However, Bennett could also become the majority funder of the anti-Netanyahu camp. Experts consider this rather unlikely.

Former Defense Secretary Bennett had campaigned to end Netanyahu’s time as head of government. However, he has not ruled out joining a coalition under Netanyahu. What he has ruled out, however, is to join a coalition with Jair Lapid, the second-placed opposition leader, at the top.

Bennett said in an initial response that night, “I will only do what is right for the State of Israel.” Government formation can take a long time. With the preliminary end result, the picture could shift significantly. It is not expected until Friday.

Due to the corona-related circumstances par excellence, it will take longer this time. Counting the so-called double envelopes with the votes of soldiers, diplomats, prisoners and corona patients should not start until Wednesday evening. According to a media report, their number, which was 330,000 in elections a year ago, will nearly double this time. This corresponds to approximately 15 of the 120 mandates.

Netanyahu has served as Prime Minister and the country’s longest-serving head of government since 2009. Many young Israelis don’t know anyone else. In the election campaign, Netanyahu wanted to score points with Israel’s rapprochement with the Arab Gulf states. In addition, he profiled himself as the founder of the country’s rapid vaccination campaign.

However, many have not forgotten the failures of the government during the pandemic: the number of infections was sometimes considerably higher than in Germany, and citizens had to come to terms with long closure phases. Secular Israelis also kept him too attentive to the ultra-Orthodox. Strictly religious parties have recently been Netanyahu’s major partners. A dispute arose that put Israeli society to the test. Netanyahu is also under severe pressure over a corruption lawsuit against him. A right-wing government could help him avoid conviction.

This election was not, as is so often the case in Israel, about a decision between the right or the left, but rather whether one is for or against Netanyahu.

The situation in Israel is so difficult because the party landscape is highly fragmented and interest-driven. Both the right and left camp consist of several parties. On the margin, there are other divisions such as the ultra-right.

Even if they belong to a camp, some groups are not compatible with alliances. In addition to programmatic differences, this is also due to personal hostilities. Netanyahu’s relationship with other right-wing main characters such as Bennett, Gideon Saar and Avigdor Lieberman is considered very difficult.

In addition, there is a low percentage threshold that must be overcome to enter parliament. That’s 3.25 percent, in Germany about 5. The last government consisted of more than half a dozen parties and a few Knesset members. The closet had been blown up accordingly. It consisted of more than 30 ministers.