Exit polls suggested that Tuesday’s Israel election was too close to call, but results today show that Benjamin Netanyahu‘s Likud party has ended up with a very big victory in the 120 member parliament. Political analysts say that while this is clearly a major comeback for Netanyahu, who was trailing in recent pre-election polls, it’s still possible that Isaac Herzog of the Zionist Union party could end up as a coalition partner with Likud.
Apparent deadlock in Israel election
In the Israel election, with all the votes finally counted, it looks like Likud will end up with 30 seats in the Knesset, and Zionist Union will have 24. The rest of the seats are spread out among a number of splinter parties, including 14 seats for the Israeli Arab joint list party, 11 seats for Yesh Atid, and 10 seats for the centrist Kulanu Party, so negotiations could be required for Bibi in order to create a ruling majority.
Israel Election – Scare tactics made the difference for Bibi?
Throwing caution to the wind and currying to his conservative base in the final days before the election, Netanyahu apparently rejected his prior support for a Palestinian state. His campaign also spun the idea he was the target of numerous foreign enemies, insinuating that U.S. President Obama was working to depose him. It has long been an open secret that Netanyahu and Obama do not get along, and that Obama preferred to see Netanyahu out of office. The tension was excerbatted in recent months amid disputes over Iranian negotiations and a speech which Netanyahu delivered before Congress, at the invitation of GOP leader, John Boehner. FoxNews reports:
A powerful U.S. Senate investigatory committee has launched a bipartisan probe into an American nonprofit’s funding of efforts to oust Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after the Obama administration’s State Department gave the nonprofit taxpayer-funded grants
Some Obama supporters have argued that Bibi “endorsed” Mitt Romney in the 2012 election, and tried to get the former Governor of Massachusetts elected as President.
How did Netanyahu win?
Netanyahu’s “scare tactics made the difference,” opined Danny Ayalon, who served as Israel’s ambassador to Washington from 2002 to 2006 under a Likud government. “He now holds all the cards,” Ayalon noted, continuing to say the question is now whether Netanyahu will rule with a narrow “right wing” coalition or a broad national unity government.
Israel Election – Herzog less hawkish?
With most of the campaign focused on social issues in the country, few argued that the White House sees Herzog as a more promising partner on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and Iran’s nuclear program.
Clearly, if Netanyahu can manage to form and lead a majority coalition in the Israeli Knesset, he will still have to deal with a rocky relationship at least until Obama is out of office.
Israel Election – Kulanu Party potential kingmaker?
Given the likely political deadlock in the Knesset, Moshe Kahlon and his centrist Kulanu Party could tip the scale in favor of either Netanyahu or Herzog.
The current political situation means that Kahlon is likely to have a great deal more influence than just the 10 out of 120 seats in parliament that his new party is projected to win. This means he can keep the next government focused on coming to terms with his flagship cause, the high cost of living in Israel.
It also seems likely that Kahlon will become Israel’s next finance minister no matter who he decides to crown prime minister.
Speaking to a throng of supporters at the Kulanu headquarters in Tel Aviv after the election, Kahlon played coy regarding his intentions.
“We want practical solutions. Friends, in places where others gave up, we promised to fight and to win,” he commented as the crowd cheered. “Now is the time to do what is best for all of us. This evening is about recognizing the good. An evening of modesty and good conduct. I am not arrogant, and I certainly won’t gloat.