It would be a stunning comeback for Netanyahu, whose 12-year term as prime minister came to an end 20 months ago when his rivals banded together to force him from office.
The moderate incumbent Prime Minister Yair Lapid and his supporters appear to be losing popularity, according to Tuesday’s vote, the sixth in less than five years. Netanyahu’s own far-right friends appear to have won seats instead.
After two years of political gridlock and the inability to form a government, Netanyahu’s administration, which was plagued by his corruption conviction, came to an end in 2021. Both sides of Israeli politics were so opposed to Netanyahu that his erstwhile right-wing friend Naftali Bennett joined forces with Lapid to create a coalition government.
However, that coalition ultimately disintegrated in June. It now looks that Netanyahu has maintained the approval of the majority of the Israeli right, who, if the first results are accurate, have put him back in power.
The four elections that have taken place since 2019 have mostly been a vote on Netanyahu’s eligibility to hold office despite being accused of taking bribes, committing fraud, and betraying trust. Likud, Israel’s largest parliamentary party, is led by Benjamin Netanyahu, who has refuted any involvement.
Netanyahu’s party wants to give MPs power over judge choice, remove the charge of fraud and breach of trust, for which Netanyahu is on trial, from the penal law. It also wants to prevent the Israeli High Court of Justice from overturning legislation.
Netanyahu vis-à-vis Similar Choices
Netanyahu is competing with the far-right lawmakers Itamar Ben-Gvir, who constantly declares for armed aggression against Palestinians. The other rival is Bezalel Smotrich who is, like Ben-Gvir, member of Israel’s Religious Zionism coalition, as his major allies in the election.
Ben Gvir and Smotrich are regarded extremist even by the radical right groups in Israel. Ben-Gvir is well known for regularly harassing Palestinians on the streets of occupied East Jerusalem, using derogatory language toward locals, leading settler marches, and igniting conflict that frequently results in Palestinians being arrested and suffering injuries. This is especially true in the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, which has developed into a hub of Jewish illegal occupation.
Others in Smotrich’s party, however, are in favor of illegitimately annexing the whole West Bank. Mansour Abbas’ United Arab List (UAL) had won five seats as of Wednesday morning, exceeding the necessary 3.25 percent barrier.
Palestinians saw Abbas as problematic since the UAL, also known by its Hebrew abbreviation Ra’am, became the first Palestinian movement to enter an Israeli administration by joining the Bennett-Lapid alliance.
The Hadash-Ta’al list, a coalition of the Arab League for Reform and the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality likewise appears to have achieved the required threshold. This year, there was a low voter turnout in Palestine; many people were undecided about voting, and several citizens claimed to be fed up with the system.
Palestinian political parties came together and represented the third largest bloc in parliament in 2015 and 2020. Despite that, it is widely believed that the main problems affecting Palestinians in Israel, such as violent act and killings, limitations on urban development and land ownership, and excessive use of force by police and surveillance, have only gotten worse over the past decade.