Netanyahu, Ultranationalist Party Prevail in Israel

Benjamin Netanyahu

( – Former long-time Prime Minister of Israel and a bloc led by his right-wing Likud party appear to have scored a decisive victory in the country’s general elections, the fifth parliamentary vote in the past four years.

With more than 85% of the votes counted, the conservative party Likud and its allies seem set to win a combined total of 62 seats in the 120-member Knesset, the Israeli parliament, The Jerusalem Post reported.

The slight majority would allow Likud’s leader Netanyahu to become the leader of Israel for the third time.

The bloc left by the center-right party also includes three far-right partners: the Religious Zionist Party (RZP), United Torah Judaism (UTJ), and Shas.

Benjamin Netanyahu is already Israel’s longest-serving Prime Minister, with a combined tenure of over 15 years, after his two stints at the top job from 1996-1999 and 2009-2021.

The 73-year-old is also the first Israeli state leader born in the country after Israel was established in 1948.

The results from Tuesday’s elections in Israel are still technically inconclusive. However, on Wednesday afternoon local time, the latest reports say that the ethnic Arab party Balad would fail to make the legislature threshold.

“Had it [not] happened, Netanyahu’s bloc would have potentially dropped to 60 seats, one short of a coalition majority,” The Jerusalem Post explained.

Amid the expectations of close results, the Likud Party urged Israel’s police commissioner to investigate voter fraud claims in the Arab-populated areas on Tuesday night.

Exit polls forecast on Tuesday night that the right-wing bloc led by Netanyahu’s Likud would be able to clinch a slight outright majority of 61 seats in the Knesset.

The Likud party is expected to have 31-32 seats in its own right, while the liberal party Yesh Atid of Israel’s incumbent Prime Minister Yair Lapid would likely end up with 23 seats.

Together with his allies, Lapid could count on about 53-54 votes in the new Israeli legislature, leaving him in opposition.

The biggest winner in the Israeli election seems to be the far-right Religious Zionist Party, one of Likud’s partners led by Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich, which is expected to have 13-14 seats.

Netanyahu’s other allies, both ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties, also saw higher than expected results, with ten seats projected for Shas and seven for United Torah Judaism.

Non-liberal leftist and socialist formations – the Labor Party and Meretz – performed poorly, with five seats for the former and four for the latter.

Two other ethnic Arab parties are also projected to cross the threshold for the Knesset, with 4-5 seats for Hadash-Ta’al and five for Ra’am.

Netanyahu is presently on trial for corruption but denies the accusations.