Israel elections: Exit polls predict return of Netanyahu as PM
Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to return as the Jewish state's new Prime Minister, BBC reported. Exit polls released on Tuesday showed Netanyahu's bloc crossing the 61-seat threshold and likely forming the next coalition government, it said. The coalition is supported by Likud, the Religious Zionist Party (RZP), the United Torah Judaism (UTJ), and Shas.
Why does this story matter?
- One of Israel's most contentious political figures, 73-year-old Netanyahu is a staunch advocate for Israel's illegal settlement in the West Bank, occupied by it since 1967.
- He also opposed the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as a solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict--a formula supported by the majority of the international community, including the United States.
Netanyahu confident of win as Israelis cast record ballot
On Tuesday, a sizable number of Israelis cast ballots—the fifth time in the past four years. Nearly 71.3% of voters turned out for voting, the highest since 2015. And it is anticipated that Netanyahu, the longest-serving Prime Minister, will return. Netanyahu informed his supporters today that the formation of the government is imminent for his party.
Accused of corruption during last tenure
In 2019, during his last tenure, he was accused of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust--the allegations he refuted. Last year his government was toppled after 12 years in power. However, he had vowed to come back to power soon. His rivals, however, said that nothing is decided yet. Meanwhile, Israeli televisions predicted 61-62 seats for the Netanyahu bloc in the 120-seat (Knesset) Parliament.
Other predictions by exit polls
With 30-31 seats and the backing of nationalist and religious parties, Likud is expected to be the largest party, exit polls predict. The coalition that defeated Netanyahu in the elections last year was led by Yesh Atid, and it is anticipated to win 22-24 seats. Religious Zionism, a supporter of Likud and an ultra-nationalist party, appears to be at number three with 14 seats.
Surprising emergence of some Islamist Ra'am party
According to local media, with 70% vote counts, the Islamist Ra'am party, projected to win four seats in exit polls, was over the electoral threshold for the first time at 3.86%. The left-wing Meretz party was on the edge of the 3.25% vote minimum needed to win Knesset representation. The opposition Arab Balad party is also under the threshold with 2.69% of total votes.