Israel’s Central Elections Committee announced the final results of the April 9th Parliamentary Elections. After completing the vote count of IDF servicemembers and diplomats serving overseas, incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu‘s Likud party has gained an additional mandate, at the expense of the Ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism party. While the minor shift did not affect Netanyahu’s right-wing and religious bloc, it did provide his ruling-Likud a one-mandate-edge over its primary rival, the ‘Blue and White’ party that is headed by former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz.
With Netanyahu’s Likud obtaining 36 mandates over Blue and White’s 35, Likud officials have told TV7 that the Incumbent Prime Minister is already in the midst of negotiations with his so-called “natural partners” in order to form a required minority coalition of at least 61 Parliament members of the Knesset’s 120 seats. Similar to his previous term, Netanyahu will be forced to contend with a narrow coalition of 65 Knesset Members, which will grant his partners powers that are disproportionate to their small number of seats.
President Reuven Rivlin announced that the formal process of consultations with the leaders of parties ahead of forming the government will begin at his residence next week. After hearing their recommendations, the President will select the candidate he believes will be most likely to succeed in forming a coalition within 28 days, with an optional 14-day extension.
It is also important to mention two major surprises to this year’s election results. Neither the New Right party, headed by former Education Minister Naftali Bennet and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, nor the Zehut party lead by former Knesset Member Moshe Feiglin – who was expected to become so-called “Kingmaker” according to pre-election polls – were unable to pass the electoral threshold of 3.25 percent.
Other findings included majority support of 89.6% for reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas. 73.8% opposed the establishment of diplomatic relations between Arab countries and Israel. Regarding resolution of the conflict with Israel, 59.3% of Palestinians said they favor the continued boycott of the US administration by the Palestinian leadership, and 65.3%, said they believe the Palestinian leadership should reject the US Mid East peace plan after it has been unveiled. Only 6.1% said it should be accepted, and 21.3% said they wanted Palestinian leaders to revive the peace process in order to negotiate terms of the proposal.