With Over 90% of Votes Counted, Netanyahu Inches Closer To 6th Premiership
Israel's ex-premier and leader of the Likud party Binyamin Netanyahu addresses supporters at campaign headquarters in Jerusalem early on Nov. 2, 2022, after the end of voting for national elections. (Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP via Getty Images)

With Over 90% of Votes Counted, Netanyahu Inches Closer To 6th Premiership

Netanyahu will need help from extreme right-wing parties to form a new Israeli government

Former Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s dramatic comeback is all but assured. With 90% of the vote from Tuesday’s national election counted, the veteran politician is set to form the next Israeli government.

After a high voter turnout, Israel’s longest-serving prime minister is on the brink of staging another political revival, and is in position to claim power again.

Netanyahu’s supporters are jumping for joy, ecstatic over the results.

Tal Gilboa, an ardent supporter of the Likud and Netanyahu, told The Media Line that the country needs Netanyahu.

“We needed a victory, a big victory because the civilians in Israel, they deserve steady government. This is what we need now in Israel,” she said.

We believe that the Likud will form the next government, we will call many parties to join us, we proved in the past that we are capable of forming a government and to lead the country to good places

Now the leader of the conservative Likud party is huddling with his aides and getting ready to engage in some wheeling and dealing, something the 73-year-old politician is known for.

“I’m optimistic. We believe that the Likud will form the next government, we will call many parties to join us, we proved in the past that we are capable of forming a government and to lead the country to good places,” Likud member Danny Danon, chairman of World Likud, told The Media Line.

But to get there, Netanyahu will need help from extreme right-wing parties, such as the Religious Zionism alliance, which will be the third largest party in parliament and the likely kingmaker. One of the party’s leaders, Itamar Ben-Gvir, a man with a 2007 conviction for inciting racial hatred, wants to run the public security ministry that controls the police.

“It’s time we go back to being masters of our country,” Ben-Gvir said on election night.

It will be the first time an ultra-nationalist politician has held any cabinet position.

The US State Department expressed concern over the possibility of far-right ministers in a future coalition government, without explicitly mentioning any names.

Washington views leaders of far-right parties like Ben-Gvir as problematic for the country.

Former Public Security minister and Likud lawmaker, Amir Ohana, told The Media Line that Israel appreciates the US, but choosing who to include in the next government is a domestic issue.

“Our closest ally no doubt is the United States of America. It is our closest friend and we respect the US very much, but we are a sovereign country and the only one that gets to decide about the next coalition is the Israeli voter,” he said.

Religious Zionism co-leader Bezalel Smotrich has indicated he wants to lead the Defense Ministry; the demand has put Netanyahu in an awkward position.

The veteran former premier has spent the last 16 months plotting his return and, with his victory, he is able to resurrect his political career.

Our closest ally no doubt is the United States of America. It is our closest friend and we respect the US very much, but we are a sovereign country and the only one that gets to decide about the next coalition is the Israeli voter.

Netanyahu is on trial for bribery and fraud, and his critics fear that, back in power, Netanyahu will bend the legal system to avoid conviction.

The former prime minister has always described himself as the protector of Israel’s security during decades in public life.

“I’m happy! I’m happy very much because justice [was done] today,” Aliza, a resident of Tel Aviv, told The Media Line after learning the results of the election.

The veteran politician will now shift his attention to forming his next Israeli government, which could take weeks, if not months. Once that is done, Netanyahu says he intends to serve his entire four-year term.

 

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