5 Key Takeaways from Israel’s Parliamentary Election and Netanyahu’s Victory

Published April 10th, 2019 - 11:51 GMT
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Flyers featuring Netanyahu lie on the ground after Netanyahu declares victory (AFP/JACK GUEZ)

Al Bawaba Editorial Team

 

1. Netanyahu Poised to Form Far-Right Government

Although Israel’s current ruling party, Likud led prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and the Blue & White Party are virtually tied in votes, Netanyahu’s Likud party is likely to form Israel’s government.

What gives Likud the advantage are far-right, religious and other nationalist parties, who collectively received more votes than centrist and Arab parties. Parties such as the religious orthodox Shas and United Torah Judaism parties along with the far-right United Right party are likely to form a coalition with Netanyahu’s Likud party.

They are on track to attain 65 seats in Israel’s parliament, compared to the centrist and Arab parties, which will only acquire 55.

The Times of Israel reported that some Israeli settlements in the West Bank may have engaged in voter fraud to cast more ballots in favor of far-right parties. According to the report, “In the ultra-Orthodox West Bank settlement of Modiin Illit, voter turnout was 104% with 19,989 ballots cast and 19,103 residents who were eligible to vote. In the northern West Bank settlement of Bruchin voter turnout was 167%, with 385 ballots cast and 230 residents who were eligible to vote.”

Oddly enough, both the Blue & White Party’s leader, former Israeli army general Benny Gantz, and Netanyahu declared victory. Gantz later recanted his victory declaration.

 

2. Netanyahu Will Become Israel’s Longest-Serving Prime Minister

Benjamin Netyanyahu with wife Sara Netanyahu after declaring victory (AFP/THOMAS COEX)

Netanyahu will serve a fifth term as Israel’s prime minister, outlasting every other previous leader. Netanyahu, who is 69 years old, began his tenure as prime minister in March 2009. Netanyahu also served a term as prime minister from 1996 to 1999.

His ability to lead Israel has come as a surprise for some, since he has been criminally indicted for corruption by the country’s attorney general just a few weeks before the election. His wife and son, Sara Netanyahu and Yair, have both their fair share of scandals as well. Sara was indicted on charges of fraud and Israeli police recommended she also be charged with bribery. While at a strip club, Yair was recordedon tape bragging about paying for prostitutes and details surrounding a controversial oil deal his father was negotiating.

 

3. The Palestine Question Will Be a Central Policy Issue

The Separation Wall near the Palestinian town of Abu Dis (AFP/FILE)

Many of the points debated in the run-up to the election revolved around the Palestinian question: more specfically, will Israel annex the West Bank, will sign the so-called ‘Deal of the Century’ with Palestinian leadership, and how will Palestinian Israeli citizens be treated by the new government?

Netanyahu himself said on the Saturday before the elections that if he wins, one of this first policy decisions will be to annex the West Bank. “We will move to the next stage,” he said on Channel 12, “I will impose sovereignty [over the West Bank], but I will not distinguish between settlement blocs and isolated settlements.. I will not uproot anyone, and I will not transfer sovereignty to the Palestinians.”

Hanan Ashrawi, a senior Palestinian official, reacted to the election of Likud, which will be bound to adopt a policy agenda that satisfies far-right parties in the upcoming governmental coalition:

“Israeli voters have chosen their representatives. Regrettably, Israelis overwhelmingly voted for candidates that are unequivocally committed to entrenching the status quo of oppression, occupation, annexation and dispossession in Palestine and escalating the assault on Palestinian national and human rights. They have chosen an overwhelmingly rightwing, Xenophobic and anti-Palestinian parliament to represent them. Israelis chose to entrench and expand apartheid.”

 

4. Israel’s Alliance with Saudi, Egypt and the U.A.E. Will Solidify

Netanyahu (front row, third to the right) with EU, U.S. and GCC leaders in Warsaw (AFP/FILE)

Part of Netanayahu’s foreign policy strategy has been to court Saudi Arabia, the U.A.E. and Egypt to form a bloc of aligned states, which would be backed by the U.S. With a renewed term as prime minister, the world can expect to see that bloc solidify further.

The Likud party’s electoral campaign emphasized security as the party’s top issue: this bloc is widely seen as a way Israel can secure itself and its foreign policy by allying with its powerful neighbors against common enemies.

Already, Israel was working with Egypt on lucrative oil deals while senior Israeli officials visited various GCC countries. Netanyahu went to Warsaw, Poland earlier in 2019, where he met with Arab leaders to discuss their mutual plans to confront Iran.

The Arab countries in this alliance, who was championed the cause of Palestinian statehood and political rights for Palestinians, have spoken less publicly on the issue and have emphasized a strategic partnership with Israel.


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