Bibi fails to win majority in close Israeli election
Jerusalem: Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party trailed its main rival Blue and White by 31to 32 seats on Wednesday after an unprecedented repeat election, putting the country’s longest serving premier on a shaky ground and raising the possibility of a unity government. Israelis voted on Tuesday in their country’s second general election in five months after 69-year-old Netanyahu failed to form a governing coalition with a viable majority following April’s vote. The Central Election Committee said that Benny Gantz’s Blue and White party seemed to be taking a lead over Likud after 91% votes were counted.
As per figures shared by the CEC, the centre-left bloc now has 56 seats compared to Netanyahu-led bloc, comprised of right-wing and ultra-Orthodox parties, which is at 55 seats in the 120-member Parliament. The Joint List, an alliance of mostly Arab Israeli parties, also has gained a seat standing at 13. These numbers may change slightly when the votes of soldiers are counted later on Wednesday and Thursday. The secular Yisrael Beitenu party won 9 seats, making its leader and former defence minister Avigdor Lieberman the kingmaker in the elections, as predicted earlier in the exit polls.
Meanwhile, Netanyahu’s office said the PM Benjamin Netanyahu and his main challenger Benny Gantz were deadlocked on Wednesday, media reported, raising the possibility of a unity government or even the end of the premier’s rule
PM will not travel to New York next week for the UN General Assembly in the wake of the election results. Foreign minister Yisrael Katz will speak at the UN General Assembly instead of Netanyahu, a spokeswoman said.
Gantz has not ruled out a unity administration with Likud but has said Blue and White would not join such a government if it included Netanyahu, citing looming corruption charges against the prime minister, who has denied any wrongdoing.
Netanyahu, who has been premier for a total of more than 13 years, faces charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust in connection with three cases.