The most shocking part about Israel’s unprecedented third election in a year isn’t that Likud won the most seats or that their embattled leader pulled off a seeming miracle ahead of appearing in court on corruption charges later this month. The most shocking part is that Israel may finally be able to form a government.
Likud and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are showing a strong victory in the Israel elections, according to exit polls. The conservative bloc appears to have 58-61 seats won with votes from soldiers still waiting to be processed. Members of Israel’s military generally vote conservative, leaving little hope for the center-left bloc led by Blue and White of pulling out a last minute upset.
— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) March 2, 2020
The positive results for Netanyahu can be attributed to higher-than-expected turnout, though Blue and White’s Benny Gantz says they did not get the turnout they needed in critical areas. This contentious race drew in over 70% of voters, up from up from 68.46% in April and 69.83% in September. That seems to be the difference after the last election in which Blue and White won the most seats individually but could not form a government.
From here, Netanyahu must form a coalition of at least 61 Members of the Knesset in order to put together a new government. Exit polls show Likud will have 36-37 seats. Its allies in Shas won 9, followed by UTJ with 7-8 and Yamina with 6-7. Once the soldiers’ voters are counted, a 61-seat majority is likely.
Yisrael Beytenu, the party of Avigdor Lieberman that started this election mess by leaving the conservative bloc, appears to no longer be needed to form a coalition government. They are expected to finish with 6-8 seats. Meanwhile, Blue and White is sitting in second place with 33 seats. Of note is the Arab List with around 14 seats, a strong showing for the pro-Palestinian group of parties.
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Israel’s nightmare election season appears to be over with President Trump’s ally, Benjamin Netanyahu, still sitting in the Prime Minister’s seat. It’s a great day for Israel and America’s interests in the Middle East.