Jerusalem (AP) – In Israel’s fourth parliamentary election in two years time, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing conservative Likud is predicted to become the strongest force.
The party won 31 to 33 seats in the Knesset with 120 seats, according to the predictions of the TV broadcasters in the evening. This is a small downside compared to the elections a year ago. But Netanyahu has a chance to form a government.
That depends on whether the settler-friendly Jamina Party takes Netanyahu’s side. The chairman, Naftali Bennett, took part in the election campaign with the aim of replacing Netanyahu. However, he does not rule out entering into a coalition with the latter. With Jamina, the Netanyahu Bloc is projected to reach a majority of 61 out of 120 MPs. Netanyahu has been in office since 2009.
Behind the Likud, the future party of opposition leader Jair Lapid took second place (16 to 18 seats). Third place is still unclear. The predictions see either the strictly religious Schas Party or the Arab Party Alliance. A total of twelve parties are predicted to have jumped the 3.25 percent hurdle required to enter the Knesset. Most of them had a single digit mandate number.
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 elections, he and his Likud, impressed by the Corona crisis, formed a coalition with the center alliance Blau-Weiß, but it broke up in December over a budget dispute. Throughout election day, there was little participation in the ballot.
The party landscape in Israel is highly fragmented and interest-based. Even if they come from one camp, parties are often incompatible 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 bad.
The polling station did not expect the preliminary final results until Friday. Due to the Corona crisis, special security rules applied, in Israel there is no postal vote like in Germany. For example, infected people voted in special polling stations set up in buses. Even at Ben Gurion Airport, travelers could choose. In all, about 6.6 million people were called to elect the members of the 24th Knesset in Jerusalem.
The main topic of the election campaign was the Corona crisis. Netanyahu especially wanted to score points with the country’s rapid vaccination campaign. However, many have recently expressed dissatisfaction with pandemic management. Infections in Israel were at times significantly higher than in Germany, and civilians had to come to terms with lengthy lockdown phases. Netanyahu is also under pressure over a corruption case against him.
According to the Israeli army, a missile was fired at Israel in the early evening. So there were no casualties or material damage. According to media reports, the projectile crashed in the region around Beerscheva. Netanyahu was in town at the time.