The Israeli elections ended Tuesday night with a tie: Likud under incumbent Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu receiving 35 mandates and Blue and White under Benjamin “Bennie” Gantz receiving an identical 35 mandates. Though both parties declared an election victory, it is clear that Israelis have once again chosen Netanyahu to lead.
Likud had its best showing ever under Netanyahu, winning 26.27 percent of the vote. Blue and White, a new party formed by political alliances, won 25.94 percent of the vote. Only some 14,000 votes separated the two parties.
Next week, President Reuven Rivlin will consult with the elected party leaders, chooses the Knesset member most likely to have the ability to form a viable coalition representing at least a 61 seat majority. While this typically is the leader of the party receiving the most seats, it is not required to be so. The leader of the party deemed the most likely to form a majority coalition has up to 42 days to negotiate with the different parties, and then present his or her government to the Knesset for a vote of confidence. If the Knesset approves the proposed government (by a vote of at least 61 members), he or she becomes Prime Minister.
It is for this reason, Israel’s system of coalitions choosing the prime minister, that Netanyahu will most likely be Israel’s next leader. Based on the results, the right-wing bloc allying with the religious parties can form a coalition of 65 Knesset seats, while the left-wing bloc allied with the Arab parties wins only 55 seats. With Netanyahu at its head, the right-wing bloc will appoint Netanyahu prime minister.
Several of the right-wing parties had as a central aspect of their party platform annexation of Judea and Samaria, a rallying cry that Netanyahu adopted in recent weeks.
The other parties won the following number of seats in the Knesset. Shas, the Sephardi religious party, won eight seats. United Torah Judaism, the ultra-Orthodox party, also won eight seats. The Labor party, the dominant left-wing party for many years, had its worst showing ever with six seats. Hadash-Ta’al won six seats. The Union of Right-Wing Parties won five seats. Yisrael Beytenu (Israel Home) won five seats. Kulanu won four. Meretz won four. Ra’am-Balad (Arab parties) won four seats.
The New Right with 3.14 percent of the vote, Zehut with 2.53 percent, and Gesher with 1.75 percent did not pass the minimum 3.25 percent threshold to enter the Knesset..
Election officials said turnout was 67.8%, down from 2015’s turnout of 71.8%.