As a result, Netanyahu is poised to return to the prime ministership after a brief year in opposition. Netanyahu was Israel’s ninth prime minister from 1996 to 1999 and again from 2009 to 2021. He will also become the first Israeli politician to have served for three non-concurrent terms.
Netanyahu thanked his supporters in a speech early Wednesday morning for giving him and his bloc a vote of confidence from the Israeli public. “It was again demonstrated that Likud is the largest party in Israel,” said Netanyahu. “Israelis voted for national pride and a Jewish state. I’ll set up a national government that will look after all the citizens of Israel.”
“Israel is returning to sanity today,” said former Israeli ambassador to the UN, and incoming Likud MK, Danny Danon. “After years of political instability, the citizens of Israel voted for a nationalist government that will restore security and governance to the people of Israel.”
In the lead-up to the election, some polls indicated another stalemate, with the Netanyahu-led bloc stuck at 60 seats and the Yair Lapid-led bloc with 56 seats. Even according to the exit polls, Netanyahu’s coalition would only barely eke out a 61-seat majority. However, as the votes were counted, it became clear that certain left-wing parties that were expected to pass the threshold would not do so, giving the right-wing bloc a larger majority. The national voter turnout on Tuesday was 71.3 percent, the highest since 2015.
At present, Netanyahu’s Likud party has won 31 seats. Lapid’s Yesh Atid party won 24 seats. Betzalel Smotrich’s and Itamar Ben-Gvir’s Religious Zionism Party won fourteen seats. Benny Gantz’s and Gideon Sa’ar’s National Unity Party won 12 seats. Aryeh Deri’s Shas Party won 12 seats and Moshe Gafni’s and Yitzchok Goldknopf’s United Torah Judaism party won eight seats.
Based on the current numbers, Netanyahu is poised to create a coalition made up of his Likud Party, the Religious Zionism Party, and the Haredi Shas and United Torah Judaism parties. This will end four years of political stalemate that have dragged the country through five elections in three years.
While the National Unity Party could theoretically join the coalition and give Netanyahu a center-right majority of 77 seats, it appears unlikely that they will.
“We have decided to continue our efforts to position the National Unity Party as a major organization at the center of the political map,” National Unity said in a statement. “We accept the voters’ decision, and we will remain a responsible opposition after the establishment of the government.”
The only scenario that could thwart the Netanyahu bloc’s majority is if both the Meretz Party and Balad Party end up above the electoral threshold of 3.25% and if the Labor Party, which is currently at 3.57%, does not fall below it.
As officials begin tallying the final ballots cast by members of the security forces, prisoners, people with disabilities, and diplomats serving abroad, these figures may change. However, a significant shift in the number of seats held by Netanyahu’s coalition and its opponents is unlikely.