News and Commentary

It’s Final For Bibi: ‘Blue And White,’ Netanyahu’s Main Opposition, Formally Concedes

As The Daily Wire’s Hank Berrien reported last night, preliminary results from Israel’s much-hyped national election appeared to result in yet another victory for the nation’s long-time prime minister, the right-of-center Likud Party’s Benjamin Netanyahu:

As of roughly 7:30 p.m. EST on Tuesday, all three Israeli main TV channels predicted that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would again head the new government, likely forming a coalition with his Likud party and other right-wing parties including Shas, United Torah, Yisrael Beitenu and United Right. With 66% of the vote counted, Likud was poised to gain 37 seats, Shas 8, United Torah Judaism 7, Yisrael Beitenu 6, and United Right 5, making a total of 63 seats. The Knesset has 120 seats, a minimum of 61 is needed to form a ruling coalition. Moshe Kahlon, leader of the Kulanu party, also said he would support Netanyahu; Kulanu was poised to win five seats.

Notably missing from the prospective right-of-center governing coalition are New Right, led by popular Israeli conservative leaders Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked, and Zehut, a relatively new libertarian-leaning Zionist party led by the charismatic Moshe Feiglin. But according to conservative-leaning Israeli polling guru Jeremy Man Saltan, there is some recent historical precedent by which New Right might still be in luck. As a knowledgeable source who served in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) confirmed to me, there are approximately 200,000 votes that cannot be made in a standard Israeli voting booth — mostly soldiers, but also hospital patients and diplomats. These votes have not yet been counted and could yet alter the nature of the next Likud-led right-of-center governing coalition.

As The Daily Wire also reported last night, former IDF Chief of General Staff Benny Gantz, who is co-leader of the “Blue and White” alliance, Likud’s main opposition, initially claimed victory when polling numbers started to come in: “I will be the prime minister of everyone and we intend to unite everyone. … The road is very, very long, the moments of joy are many. We will not make them too early, and especially we will remember the great responsibility that is placed upon us — responsibility to form a government that will serve the State of Israel and not itself.”

Well, as former Texas governor and current U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry once said … oops. As The Times of Israel reports today, “Blue and White” has now formally conceded:

The Blue and White party conceded the election race on Wednesday to Likud, while vowing to strongly challenge a government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from the opposition.

“We respect the decision of the people,” Gantz told journalists, acknowledging his centrist Blue and White alliance had failed to unseat Netanyahu in Tuesday’s elections. …

Though Blue and White was tied with Netanyahu’s Likud at 35 seats with over 97 percent of ballots counted, it was trailing the party by some 13,000 votes and had no clear path to assembling a ruling majority in the 120-seat Knesset. The right-wing bloc led by Netanyahu’s Likud is poised to receive some 65 seats, compared to some 55 for the center-left, giving it a clear path to victory.

It is noteworthy that “Blue and White,” despite being the main electoral alternative to firmly right-of-center Likud, is best described as a centrist/mildly right-of-center political party. Labor, the once-mighty left-of-center Israeli party that had a near-unanimous stranglehold on Israeli politics for two to three decades following the country’s 1948 founding, has collapsed into utter irrelevance. As the reality of the failures of the Labor-induced Oslo Accords becomes ever clearer, Israelis have come to cherish above all else one political issue: Their own existential survival.