Israel’s Netanyahu inches closer to power with victory confirmed

Published Wed, Nov 9, 2022 · 06:20 PM

BENJAMIN Netanyahu has officially been confirmed as the victor in Israel’s elections, putting the former prime minister on track to form a right-wing coalition government that could complicate foreign relations. 

Netanyahu’s Likud party won the highest percentage of the vote on Nov 1, Israel’s Central Election Committee said Wednesday (Nov 9). That translates into 32 seats in the 120-member parliament, the Knesset. 

Incumbent Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party won 24 seats, while the far right Religious Zionism coalition, a likely partner in a government led by Netanyahu, came third with 14 seats. 

Israel’s president is expected to ask Netanyahu to form a government in the next four weeks. If no agreement is reached after this time, the president has the authority to grant him an additional 14 days to do so.  

Netanyahu, 73, is widely expected to partner with Religious Zionism and the country’s two ultra-Orthodox parties, Shas and United Torah Judaism, which won 11 and seven seats respectively. 

The right-wing coalition gives Netanyahu, who was Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, the chance to return to office after less than 18 months in opposition. 

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However, he is doing this by leaning on support from a number of once-fringe politicians whose stances on minority rights – particularly Arab-Israeli and Palestinian rights – have deepened domestic tensions and drawn rebuke from the US. 

Among them is Itamar Ben-Gvir, a 46-year-old lawyer who said before the vote that he wants to be public security minister, which would give him oversight of the country’s police forces. BLOOMBERG

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