Although the incumbent Prime Minister is expected to form the new government in Israel, the very close election result has been described as a “resounding slap” for Benjamin Netanyahu. Writing in Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth, commentator Yossi Verter said that even though Netanyahu will still be prime minister it will be “more difficult for him” as the chances of forming a civil-secular government are slight.
Right-wing parties got the highest number of seats in the new Knesset according to the final results announced by Israel’s central election committee early on Wednesday, with a total of 60 seats. The Likud-Yisrael Beitenu group won 31 seats, Habayt Hahehudi got 11 as did Shas, and United Torah Judaism took 7.
The number of seats for Likud-Yisrael Beitenu was dramatically fewer than predicted by several polls, one of which expected it to get 42. Nevertheless, Netanyahu thanked Israelis for giving him a “third chance to lead the country”.
The centre-left Yesh Atid Party led by journalist turned politician Yair Lapid got 19 seats. This was a stunning result for a new party which is now the second largest in the Knesset after Likud-Yisrael Beitenu. Analysts said that Lapid might agree to join a coalition government, which would undermine Netanyahu’s extreme policies.
According to Netanyahu, he is going to form “as broad a coalition government as possible”. Television polls suggested that such a broad coalition will weaken his ability to form a “stable rightist” government.
The dramatic success of Yair Lapid demonstrates, it is claimed, how much Israelis are fed up with the old politicians and old policies. Haaretz columnist Gideon Levy wrote that the public’s “yes” for the former journalist “means yes for youth and yes for the new”.