The Likud party led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu won early elections to the Knesset. Potential coalition partners’ results will allow the PM to maintain the current government with a similar composition. It also strengthens Netanyahu, who faces corruption allegations, but may require significant political concessions for him to stay in power.
Likud received the majority of votes, guaranteeing it 35 seats. It slightly outran opposition centre-right bloc “Blue and White” (led by Benjamin Gantz and Yair Lapid), which scored the same number of seats. The religious parties United Torah Judaism and Shas both had good results, winning a total of about 16 seats. Also clearing the electoral threshold were previous Likud coalition members Yisrael Beiteinu and Kulanu, as well as United Right, which represents settlers and the extreme right. The Israeli left’s result was weak and Arab parties also lost some seats. The New Right, a party created by ministers Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked, might not even reach the threshold. Official results will be announced by 17 April but for now, unofficial results confirm the dominance of the right wing, supported by the vast majority of Israeli society.
Likud’s best results since 2003 strengthen Netanyahu as party leader and the electoral success of the right wing allows him to remain PM—for the fifth time. The majority of the parties from the current coalition recommends his candidacy (in accordance with constitutional law) for president.
If maintained, Netanyahu’s government will continue his current political line. It includes attempts to limit the prerogatives of the Supreme Court, to reduce the cost of living in Israel, or to privilege the
In foreign policy, Israel is expected to maintain continuity. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is most likely to be kept by Likud in the coalition negotiations. Diplomatic efforts will be intensified to establish foreign diplomatic missions in Jerusalem and win recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. The composition of the new coalition, especially the participation of radical parties, will stiffen Israel’s position during reactivation of the peace process, pursued by the U.S. administration (announced for the post-election period in Israel). The question remains whether Netanyahu, who is being pressed by his coalition, will actually implement the declarations from the campaign regarding the annexation into Israel of Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Such a move would mean a breakdown in relations with the Palestinians and result in open conflict.