Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud took first place in the legislative elections on Tuesday, but without guarantee of obtaining a majority to form a government. Naftali Bennett seems able to play the “kingmaker”.
According to exit polls, Benyamin Netanyahu’s troops will win between 31 and 33 out of 120 seats in the Knesset (parliament), far ahead of the centrist Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid (“There is a future”) party credited with 16 to 18 seats.
About ten minority parties
Then follow nearly a dozen parties under the bar of ten seats at the end of these legislative elections, the fourth in the country in almost two years after three polls having placed Benyamin Netanyahu and his former great rival Benny Gantz at the elbow-to -elbow.
In this quest for the Grail – a majority of 61 deputies to form a government – Benyamin Netanyahu intends to make an alliance with religious groups and, as a novelty, with the extreme right, while Yair Lapid is counting on an agreement with left-wing parties, from the center but also from the right disappointed by the Prime Minister.
Some 6.5 million Israelis were invited to the polls for this fourth episode of an electoral saga that looks like a referendum on Benjamin Netanyahu, both tried for “corruption” and the architect of an intense anti-coronavirus vaccination campaign.
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According to the first projections, neither the block of Benjamin Netanyahu, nor that of Yair Lapid, are at this stage able to rally 61 deputies, which brings all eyes to Naftali Bennett, leader of the party of the radical right Yamina, who still hasn’t chosen his side.
Naftali Bennett remains elusive
Naftali Bennett shares the ideology of Benjamin Netanyahu – the most enduring government leaders in Israel’s history, showing fifteen years in power – but criticizes his management.
“I will only do what is in the best interests of Israel,” Naftali Bennett said Tuesday evening, without revealing his cards further. The Election Commission is scheduled to announce final results on Friday.
The Passover holidays will follow, the Jewish Passover, then President Reuven Rivlin will ask the newly elected officials to choose a candidate likely to rally a majority of seats to lead the next government.
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