JERUSALEM: Uncertainty hovered over the outcome of Israel’s parliamentary election Wednesday, with both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and sworn political rivals determined to depose him apparently lacking a clear path to a governing coalition.
Deadlock in the 120-seat parliament was a real possibility a day after the election, which had been dominated by Netanyahu’s polarising leadership.
With about 87.5 per cent of the vote counted by Wednesday morning, Netanyahu’s Likud party and its ultra-Orthodox and far-right allies fell short of a 61-seat majority — even if the Yamina party of Netanyahu ally-turned-critic Naftali Bennett were to join a Netanyahu-led government. Bennett has refused to endorse either side.
At the same time, a small Arab party emerged as a potential kingmaker on Wednesday morning after the latest count indicated it would cross the threshold to get into parliament. Like Bennett, the head of the Ra’am party, Mansour Abbas, has not ruled out joining either camp.
A fifth election also remains an option if neither camp can form a coalition. In that case, Netanyahu would remain a caretaker prime minister heading for a corruption trial and a confrontation with US President Joe Biden over Iran.
The final tally of the votes cast at regular polling stations is expected later Wednesday.
But even then, much could still change under Israel’s whipsaw politics. The elections commission was still counting about 450,000 ballots from voters who cast them outside their home polling place.
The initial results showed the country as deeply divided as ever, with an array of small sectarian parties dominating the parliament.
The results also signalled a continuing shift of the Israeli electorate toward the right wing, which supports West Bank settlements and opposes concessions in peace talks with the Palestinians.
That trend was highlighted by the strong showing of an ultranationalist anti-Arab religious party.
News Source: The Times Of India