The national election held in Israel on Tuesday – the fourth such election in two years – provided no decisive victory, and it remains unsure who will lead the country over the next four years.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party won the most votes, giving him an edge in the race to cobble together a coalition of at least 61 parliamentarians in the 120-seat Knesset.
But with rival parties breathing down his neck, he may be unable to win a historic sixth term.
Netanyahu, 71, Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, has been in office continuously since 2009 and also led the government from 1996 to 1999.
He had hoped that his handling of the coronavirus would save his political future and help him unite and lead a stable right-wing coalition government after three inconclusive elections since 2019.
He also touted his diplomatic success in achieving breakthrough normalization accords with several Arab states last year.
The turnout for this election was the lowest in years. Netanyahu crisscrossed the country courting Arab voters – quite a contrast to his previous strategy of fearmongering and incitement against the Arab citizens of Israel.
Meanwhile, the far-right Religious Zionism list, promoted by Netanyahu and advocating for the removal of Arabs from the country, outperformed expectations.
The final numbers may not come out until Friday. Binyamin Netanyahu’s party will have the largest number of seats, but it’s not a clear victory.
Still, with savvy wheeling and dealing, he may convince Yamina head Naftali Bennett to join him in a right-wing government, securing the prime minister’s seat for a record sixth time.