posted on: Thursday March 5, 2020
by Addison Wakelin ’22
After a continuous year-long political deadlock, the long-term Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has claimed a victory from preliminary results and exit polls. This was a major win for his party’s attempt to try and secure its majority in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament. This win is also significant for PM Netanyahu’s party over contentious rival Benny Gantz and his centrist Blue and White party.
This had been Israel’s third election in less than one year, with elections last April and September, due to both of the main party leaders unable to win the majority in the nation’s parliament system the last two election cycles.
Recently, Israeli media has reported that 93 percent of votes have been counted.
The most recent exit polls state that Netanyahu’s Likud party was projected to win 36 to 37 seats, whereas Gantz’s Blue and White party was projected to win 32 to 34 seats. It has been projected that his Likud party, along with its right-wing allies, are forecasted to win 59 seats, although this would leave the party two short of a majority.
Last week, Netanyahu spoke in Tel Aviv about the election. He stated, “Our opponents said, ‘the Netanyahu era is over.’ But together we flipped the story. We turned lemons to lemonade. We must avoid any more elections. It’s time to heal the rifts. It’s time for reconciliation.”
Gantz also spoke in Tel Aviv to his supporters in response to the exit polls. Gantz stated, “Perhaps this is not the result you are wishing for…but let’s look at the glass half full.” Gantz remains optimistic that there is a possibility that his own coalition, which identifies as both centrist and centrist-left, may have a chance to win the parliamentary majority needed to form a government.
Throughout this past election, Gantz has targeted not only Netanyahu’s corruption charges, but also the general fatigue that Gantz cites as a major problem in Netanyahu’s ability to properly lead Israel.
Netanyahu is hoping to seek a fourth consecutive term in office (his fifth overall) as he tries to grasp onto power, while simultaneously battling significant corruption charges.
Over the last three years, PM Netanyahu has been under an ongoing investigation by Israeli prosecutors into corruption charges; those charges include breach of trust, bribery, and fraud. Further, he is being prosecuted for the acceptance of gifts from wealthy friends along with meeting with major media figures to negotiate positive media coverage of himself.
Netanyahu has continuously denied any wrongdoing relating to these charges and will not step down, as he believes he can still proudly lead Israel while also dealing with court matters.
Despite these ongoing corruption charges, Netanyahu continues to present himself as the most viable Israeli leader. He further stated in that same Tel Aviv rally, “This is a victory against all the odds, because we stood against powerful forces.”
Netanyahu has repeatedly suggested that the fate of Israel’s political institution will be revitalized through his party’s ability to become the parliamentary majority.
However, the future of Israel’s parliamentary majority, along with Israel’s own political fate, both remain largely contested in reviving its paralyzing, lengthy deadlock. It remains uncertain if another election for parliamentary majority will occur, or if the two parties will have to compromise to reach an agreement to reestablish a coherent Israeli government.