As of Wednesday morning, far-right Israeli politician Itamar Ben-Gvir’s Religious Zionist Party had won 80 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s election, winning 14 seats that could give Benjamin Netanyahu the lead. Netanyahu’s right-wing bloc won a majority in parliament. The results so far show the former prime minister faces corruption charges, which he denies, and leads a four-party bloc that holds more than 60 of parliament’s 120 seats.
According to the current vote count, Netanyahu’s group will win 65 seats, although that number could change as more votes are processed. Polls predict that Netanyahu’s group will win 62 seats.
“We won a huge vote of confidence from the Israeli people,” Netanyahu told cheering supporters at his Likud election headquarters, smiling. “We are on the verge of a very big victory.”
During last year’s election cycle, Netanyahu said Ben-Gvir was unfit to be a minister.
But as Ben-Gvir ‘s popularity grew, Netanyahu changed tack, admitting he could serve in any potential cabinet. Religious Zionist leader Bezalel Smotrich tweeted that the party was making history “the victory of the religious Zionist camp.”
Incumbent Prime Minister Yair Lapid has yet to budge, and his party has urged patience. Ballard’s Palestinian Nationalist Party is also gradually approaching the minimum vote threshold, which the poll shows the party exceeded by 0.25%.
On Tuesday, Israelis went to the polls for the fifth time in less than four years. The final voter turnout in the election was 71.3%. This is the highest level since 2015, according to the data of the Central Election Commission.
Minutes before the polls closed, the head of the United Arab List, Mansour Abbas, announced that the number of Palestinian citizens voting in Israel was the lowest in 20 years.
The mood on the streets of Jerusalem early Tuesday was distinctly subdued, with fewer banners and activists than in recent rounds of elections. While Israeli politics in recent years have long been torn between Netanyahu’s coalition of right-wing and ultra-Orthodox parties and anyone who wants to see him behind him, veteran political analyst Meron Rapoport says Kurdish leadership is far from the most important aspect of this election.
“He is a marginal figure in modern history,” Rapoport told reporters on Tuesday. “Instead, Israeli politics is driven by religious Zionism, led by Ben-Gvir and Smotrich, who are outright racists who have pushed the idea of stripping Israel of Palestinian citizenship, as well as other destructive policies.
“This is a party that has influenced the Likud, it has largely adopted its language, and it is a party that is considering a fundamental abolition of democracy.
” Ben-Gvir talked about a law that says anyone who opposes the regime, whether Arab or Jewish, will be deported,” Rapoport said. Rapoport noted that Palestinians who remained in Israel after 1948 received David Ben-Gurion’s citizenship, which has always been sacred. However, future ministers could consider scrapping it.