Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s, Likud party increased their amount of seats from 30-24, in a stunning win over Zionist Union after yesterday’s elections in Israel. The PM promises new coalition with other ‘nationalist parties but the big news is that Netanyahu will remain Israel’s leader on the world stage.
The Likud margin of victory was far more decisive than TV exit polls had predicted when polling booths closed at 10 p.m. on Tuesday. All three TV polls had put Likud and Zionist Union in a mathematical tie at 27 seats.
Netanyahu was quick to call a Likud victory, and by this morning Isaac Herzog conceded that his Zionist Union had lost. But Herzog was to point out that his Zionist Union group had no intention of working with Likud, at least at this time. The final vote looks like this with Likud getting 30 seats, compared to Zionist Union’s 24 seats. Next came the Joint (Arab) List on 14 seats, Yesh Atid on 11, Kulanu on 10 and the Jewish Home on 8. They were followed by Shas, 7, United Torah Judaism on 6, Yisrael Beytenu on 6, and Meretz on 4 seats.
David Axelrod, President Obama’s former senior adviser, said Tuesday evening on Twitter that Mr. Netanyahu’s last-minute stand against a Palestinian state might have helped ensure him another victory. “Tightness of exits in Israel suggests Bibi’s shameful 11th-hour demagoguery may have swayed enough votes to save him. But at what cost?” he wrote.
Talking to the press Tzachi Hanegbi, a Likud deputy foreign minister in the departing government, told reporters on Tuesday night that he expected the American administration to make an effort to renew the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. “We would be very delighted to renew the negotiations,” Hanegbi said, adding that it was up to the Palestinians. “It is to the benefit of both peoples,” he said.
Netanyahu hopes to form a narrow coalition of nationalist and religious parties free of the ideological divisions that stymied his last government. That was what he intended when he called early elections in December. President Reuven Rivlin, who in coming days must charge Netanyahu or Herzog with trying to forge a coalition based on his poll of party leaders’ preferences , said shortly after the polls closed that he would suggest they join forces instead.