Paths to victory remain unclear as Israel’s election results produce a deadlock. No party succeeded in obtaining the 61 seats necessary to form a governing majority in Israel’s system of proportional representation.

Current Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu of the Likud Party, fell short of a decisive majority, leaving Israel looking at the possibility of another coalition government.

His main opposition, Yair Lapid of the Yesh Atid party, holds 13.9% of the vote and the power to challenge Netanyahu’s hold through forming his own coalition.

The current coalition government between Netanyahu and Defence Minister, Benny Gantz, collapsed after just 8 months, bringing about the 4th election in just 2 years. 

Mansour Abbas, head of the Arab Ra’am party, has been described by election commentators as a “kingmaker” for his potential to provide a majority through coalition. Abbas had previously stated that he would “work with anyone”, although no plans for such an agreement have been confirmed. Despite its 20% Arabic population, Israel is yet to have an Arabic party sit in government. Bezalel Smotrich, the leader of the Religious Zionism Party, indicated on Thursday that the Prime Minister could not rely on its support if he made a deal with Ra’am. Speaking via Twitter, Smotrich stated:

“A right-wing government will not be formed based on Mansour Abbas’s [party]. Period,”.

Netanyahu remains a controversial figure as his trial for corruption, bribery and fraud awaits its evidential stage. Seven Israelis were arrested on Saturday night at protests against the current Prime Minister that took place across Israel. Demonstrations against Netanyahu have been occurring since June of last year and gained momentum over the past 38 weeks. At 71, Netanyahu is Israel’s longest serving Prime Minister, re elected six times despite his criminal indictment in 2019. 

The Prime Minister took to the stage Tuesday night at the Likud party headquarters to declare the vote “a great achievement”. He appeared jovial, but election fatigue among Israelis’ is apparent: just 67% of the voting population turned out for this election, the lowest turnout since 2009. 

If a coalition agreement is not reached, then Israel will be facing its 5th election in 2 years. Likewise, the prospect of another fragmented coalition government has parties carefully assessing their options. 

Picture Credit: World Economic Forum

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