Benjamin Netanyahu Is Back!

Benjamin Netanyahu Is Back!

Following Tuesday’s election, exit polls indicated that former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in a strong position to retake office. His right-wing bloc was projected to gain a slim majority, helped by the strong performance of his far-right allies.

According to Israeli television exit polls, Israel’s longest-serving premier, who is now on trial for corruption accusations that he denies, was poised to win 61–62 seats in the 120-seat Knesset.

Early exit poll results might not reflect the election’s final outcome, which isn’t anticipated until later in the week. However, the results suggested that the right, which had been predicted to come up just short of a majority, had made a strong showing.

Of course I’m thrilled, and I just hope it keeps going up, said Dudi Amsalem, a legislator for the Likud. “We will strengthen law and order as well as Jewish identity.”

Many voters were frustrated with Israel’s sixth election in less than four years, but turnout was nevertheless estimated to be at the highest levels since 1999.

The far-right firebrand Itamar Ben-ultra-nationalist Gvir’s Religious Zionism list, which has risen from the political fringes to become the third-largest party in parliament, shook up the election.

In a campaign brought on by defectors from the odd government coalition of right-wing, liberal, and Arab parties led by centrist Prime Minister Yair Lapid, security on the streets and rising prices topped the list of voter worries.

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But since Netanyahu was charged with bribery, fraud, and breach of trust in 2019, his legal fights have fueled the impasse preventing Israel’s political system, overshadowing substantive issues.

Ben-Gvir and fellow far-right leader Bezalel Smotrich, who have toned down some of their more radical views but still advocate expelling anyone seen to be unfaithful to Israel, are expected to support Netanyahu, 73.

The possibility of a cabinet that includes Ben-Gvir, a former member of Kach, a group on the terrorist watchlists of Israel and the United States, and who was previously found guilty of inciting racial hatred, runs the risk of unsettling allies like Washington.

The effort began weeks after a small fight with the extremist Islamic Jihad organization in Gaza in August, and it has progressed against a background of rising unrest in the occupied West Bank, where there are almost daily incursions and skirmishes.

Lapid ran his campaign on his management of Israel’s robust economy and his diplomatic successes with nations like Lebanon and Turkey, and according to surveys, his camp was prepared to win 54–55 seats. However, it was insufficient to fend off the right.

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