Netanyahu to return as PM as right-wing parties dominate Israeli elections

Benjamin Netanyahu Editorial credit: paparazzza / Shutterstock.com

Benjamin Netanyahu is set to make a return as Israel’s Prime Minister after his party and other right-wing parties won most seats in the Israeli elections.

The final results of the Knesset election show that the pro-Netanyahu bloc won 64 seats in the 120 seat parliament.

Likud won 32 seats; Yesh Atid won 24 seats; the Religious Zionist Party won 14 seats; the National Unity Party won 12 seats; Shas won 11 seats; United Torah Judaism won 7 seats; Yisrael Beitenu won 6 seats; the United Arab List won 5 seats; Hadash-Ta’al won 5 seats; and the Labour Party won 4 seats.

The final voter turnout was 70.6 per cent.

The result marks a dramatic comeback for the former prime minister who was ousted by his opponents 14 months ago amid judicial charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust, which he denies. He remains on trial with the next hearing on Monday.

After exit polls projected that he would secure a majority, Mr Netanyahu told supporters that he would set up a government that would “look after all the citizens of Israel, without exception, because the state is all of ours… We’ll restore security, we’ll cut the cost of living, we’ll widen the circle of peace even further, we’ll restore Israel as a rising power among the nations.”

Last night outgoing Prime Minister Lapid called Likud leader Netanyahu and congratulated him on his election victory. Lapid issued a statement that he had ordered the entire staff of the Prime Minister’s Office to prepare for an orderly transfer of power. Lapid wrote: “the State of Israel comes before any political consideration and I wish Netanyahu good luck for the sake of the people of Israel and the State of Israel.”

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    One in ten Israelis voted for the hard line right wing party, the Religious Zionist Party. Its leaders – Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich – are known for their anti-Arab rhetoric. The former has called for the deportation of citizens deemed “disloyal,” while the latter has called for Arab political parties to be outlawed.

    Mr Ben-Gvir was a follower of the late, explicitly racist, ultra-nationalist Meir Kahane, whose organisation was banned in Israel and designated as a terrorist group by the United States. He has been convicted of incitement to racism and supporting a terrorist organisation.

    The inclusion of Religious Zionism in the new government would alarm Palestinian citizens of Israel who make up a fifth of the population. It could also strain ties with the Palestinians and Israel’s Western and Arab allies.

    According to Channel 12 News, if he were to be given the public security ministry (as he has requested) that would limit the cooperation between the Israel Police and the FBI.

    It is anticipated that Netanyahu will receive the mandate that gives him twenty eight days to build a coalition, distribute ministerial portfolios and agree government guidelines.

    U.S. President Joe Biden and Netanyahu are scheduled to speak in the next few days.

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