The highest turnout in Israel in decades restores Benjamin Netanyahu to power. The bold, full-right majority, which she has led this year and a few months since the opposition, has been endorsed by opinion polls of major television stations with 61/62 out of 120 seats in the Knesset, amounting to what they need to rule the country. Thus “King Bibi” regained the scepter in the fifth election in 3 years, dropping the diverse bloc of his main opponent, incumbent Prime Minister Yair Lapid, to 54/55 seats. A victory – if the actual count of the votes confirms the exit – puts the longest-serving prime minister in Israel’s history back in command, even more than father-of-the-country David Ben-Gurion.
His Likud party won 30 seats, and Lapid’s 24 seats. The vote also signals the religious Zionism of Itamar Ben Gvir, a right-wing racist anti-Arab extremist who wants to annex the entire West Bank without granting the Palestinians rights, and who intends to relax. Rules of Engagement for Soldiers, Agents and Bean of the Supreme Court, Israel’s constitutional bastion. He – and his comrade Bezalel Smotrich – won 14/15 seats: a historic victory, according to all analysts and commentators. Ben Gvir has already mortgaged the victory by asking the Ministry of Public Security in recent days. It will be difficult for Netanyahu to dispense with those seats, even if the United States and the Gulf states, led by the UAE, warn the former (and future) prime minister that Ben Gvir’s entry into the government will only have negative repercussions on the Abrahamic agreements. Then there are the religious parties, Labor, the left-wing Meretz, and the Arab Islamic party led by Mansour Abbas (Labid’s great ally), while Hadash Tal’s communists remained abroad.
What was striking, however, was the turnout: at 20 it was 66.3%, nearly 6 points more than the March 2021 elections. In any case, it was the busiest poll since 1999. Aware of the dangers of breaking out of the political impasse they It led to all the parties that had taken over in Israel time and again their electors to go to the polls. Starting with Prime Minister Yair Lapid who – after voting early in the morning at a polling station near his home in a Tel Aviv suburb with his wife Lehi – urged Israelis to express their choices. “Go and vote today for the future of our children and the future of our country.” Benjamin Netanyahu was no less. As he did in all previous elections, the former prime minister, through his Facebook, constantly called his Likud supporters to go to the polls. Today he wandered into some malls claiming that turnout on the left was high, while the right is out for shopping.
Ben Gvir made the same pressure, even renting a helicopter to go to the central region of the country. Ben Gvir – against whom the entire current Lapid bloc has erected a wall condemning what he called racist and fascist ideology – voted in Kiryat Arba, a Jewish settlement in the West Bank. In the evening, the final call to both Lapid and Netanyahu: to mobilize their voters confirmed that the blocs are “face to face.” But in the end, the magician, Netanyahu’s other nickname, appears to have won. Now – if the real data confirms the exit groups – it is up to President Isaac Herzog to start the consultations: the name at the top of the list is again Benjamin Netanyahu.
The prime minister said that “the rise of extreme right-wing religious parties in the Israeli elections, according to television opinion polls, is a natural result of the increasing manifestations of extremism and racism in Israeli society, which our people have been suffering from for years.” Ma’an News Agency quoted Muhammad Shtayyeh, president of the Palestinian National Authority.
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