Final results of Israel’s 1 November elections confirm the former premier’s triumphant comeback as the head of a solidly right-wing alliance.
By Erin Viner
Outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid has extended his best wishes to Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu on his election victory.
The Likud leader’s win appears likely to bring an end to the unprecedented stalemate in the country after five elections in less than four years.
Israeli voters awarded Netanyahu, the most prominent politician of his generation, and his ultranationalist and religious partners a clear majority of 64 of the Knesset’s 120 seats.
The centrist Lapid and his diverse alliance of conservatives, liberals and Arab politicians have effectively been ousted after just 18 months in power. The coalition notably achieved diplomatic successes with Turkey, forged an historic maritime deal with Lebanon and passed the first state budget after a three-and-a-half stalemate.
The surge of Palestinian terror is viewed as being a major factor in the constituency’s re-election of Israeli rightwing parties.
Israeli President Isaac Herzog is slated to task Netanyahu with the opportunity of collating a coalition next week, in a process that could take weeks.
Local media cited political sources who believe the country’s 37th government could be secured by mid-month. Previous coalitions in recent years have had narrower parliamentary majorities that made them vulnerable to no-confidence motions.
With coalition building talks yet to officially begin, it was still unclear what position controversial Knesset Member Itamar Ben-Gvir, might hold in a future government. Since the election, both he and Netanyahu have pledged to serve all citizens.
The United States has so far publicly reserved judgment pending the new Israeli coalition’s formation, although a State Department spokesman on Wednesday emphasized the countries’ “shared values.”
“We hope that all Israeli government officials will continue to share the values of an open, democratic society, including tolerance and respect for all in civil society, particularly for minority groups,” said the spokesperson.
US Ambassador to Israel Thomas Nides said he spoke with Netanyahu and told him he looked forward to “working together to maintain the unbreakable bond” between the two allies.