Bibi’s bloc projected to win 62 seats • Meretz, Balad teetering threshold • Lapid calls for patience
https://www.jpost.com/-By ELIAV BREUER
Likud head Benjamin Netanyahu addresses his supporters on the night of the Israeli elections, at the party headquarters in Jerusalem, November 2, 2022-(photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)
Former prime minister and Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu is poised to become Israel’s next prime minister, according to the counting of almost all of the ballots. By Wednesday afternoon, Netanyahu held his lead with more than 80 percent of the votes counted across the country.
Arab party Balad was originally said to be close to crossing the threshold but by Wednesday afternoon that option seemed to dissipate. Had it happened, Netanyahu’s bloc would have potentially dropped to 60 seats, one short of a coalition majority. Likud had sent an urgent letter to the police commissioner on Tuesday night demanding that allegations of voter fraud in the Arab sector be immediately investigated.
According to the exit polls on Tuesday night, Netanyahu’s bloc, which includes Likud, Religious Zionist Party (RZP), United Torah Judaism (UTJ) and Shas, crossed the 61-seat threshold and will be able to form the next coalition.
What did the exit polls say?
Netanyahu’s Likud party was expected to receive 31 seats according to Channel 12 and 32 seats according to Channel 13, while Lapid’s Yesh Atid party is expected to get 23 seats according to both polls.
The Religious Zionist Party – led by Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich – saw a dramatic rise in contrast to previous years with channels reporting between 13-14 seats.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s National Unity Party is expected to get 11 seats, while Yisrael Beytenu wins five to six seats.
Israel’s ultra-Orthodox parties saw a large voter turnout with Shas getting 10 seats in both polls and United Torah Judaism (UTJ) earning seven seats
Meanwhile, Israel’s Left managed to keep its head above the water with five seats going to Labor and four seats going to Meretz.
Finally, while there was concern over the turnout of the Arab vote, Hadash-Ta’al is expected to receive either four or five seats and Ra’am is expected to receive five seats. According to all channels, the Netanyahu bloc has 62 seats while the Lapid bloc has 54-53 seats.
The exit polls have been off in previous elections by a small number of seats and the official results will only be finalized in the coming days. Still, by Wednesday the country should know with near certainty what the results will be.
The victory will bring Netanyahu back into power after serving as prime minister between 1996-1999 and 2009-2021. He is already Israel’s longest-serving prime minister and has spent the last year as head of the Opposition.
The last polls on Friday showed a tie between the pro-Netanyahu and anti-Netanyahu camp, but in the days since it managed to pull ahead.
The next finance and defense ministers will likely be from the Likud. However, the Public Security Ministry could go to far-right MK Itamar Ben Gvir, who demanded the position in a press conference on Sunday.
Netanyahu delivered his apparent victory speech early Wednesday morning, claiming that the Israeli public has decided and granted him the victory, according to the Israeli election exit polls.
Netanyahu thanked his supporters for giving him and his bloc a “massive vote of confidence from the Israeli public.”
The first law passed by a Likud government will be one to allow the Knesset to overrule High Court rulings, Likud MK Miki Zohar said later on Wednesday morning on Channel 12. The Likud distanced itself from Zohar’s comments.