Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shakes hands with supporters after addressing them at his Likud Party headquarters in the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv on election night early on April 10, 2019. Photo: AFP/Thomas Coex

Israel’s incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was poised to head the next government on Wednesday, indebted to the surprise gains of his ultra-Orthodox allies.

It was a close call. As the real time results of the April 9 elections came in through the night, the two largest parties in the country were in a dead heat. The right-wing Likud, the party now in control, and the contending center-left Blue and White Party were each slated to obtain 35 seats in the Israeli parliament, the Knesset.

Both Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz declared victory. Netanyahu proclaimed he would form the next government and that his seat tally was an “unprecedented achievement.”

Gantz, flanked by his allies, said: “This is a historic day,” adding that “the largest party is the one that should form the next government. In elections there are winners and losers, and we are the winners.”

However, the apparent parity between the two biggest parties was misleading.

In the Israeli system, there are 120 seats in the Knesset, which are distributed proportionally. In order to obtain and maintain a functioning coalition, the leader of the largest party must be able to put together a coalition of at least 61 members loyal to him.

The right-wing bloc is set to obtain 65 seats, while the left-wing bloc will have roughly 55 representatives. Therefore, despite an impressive electoral performance by the Blue and White Party, there is no realistic prospect of a center-left government being formed.

With less than 5% of the votes yet to be counted, the Likud was in the position to form the next government with Netanyahu as prime minister.

Far right debt

The Likud victory is a result of the achievements of its natural coalition partners rather than the gains of the Likud party itself. In particular, the ultra-orthodox parties out-performed expectations. Both the Ashkenazi Torah Judaism and the Mizrachi Shas party received eight mandates and were tied for third-largest party.

This serves as a reminder that the ultra-orthodox are difficult to poll due to their anti-establishment tendencies and aversion to technology. The polls had even undermined the confidence of their leadership ahead of the election.

“I was genuinely worried,” the head of Mizrachi Shas, Aryeh Deri, admitted in a speech to his supporters. But his concerns were unwarranted. The ultra-orthodox parties are now set to determine the contours of the domestic policies of the Netanyahu government.

Gains amongst ultra-orthodox parties made up for unexpected setbacks experienced by some of the ideologically right-wing parties.

The libertarian Zehut party, under the leadership of pro-marijuana extremist Moshe Feiglin, did not pass the electoral threshold. This was surprising, due to their impressive performance in pre-electoral polls.

Just as shocking was the failure of Naftali Bennett’s New Right Party to obtain any seats, though some votes are still pending. Bennett and his party mate Ayelet Shaked had been dominant members of the previous government and were expected to retain influential positions in the forthcoming coalition.

In contrast, the racist United Right party, which includes adherents to the teachings of the late extremist rabbi Meir Kahane, obtained five seats and is likely to be an influential part of the new government.

The right-wing bloc also benefited from the unexpected success of former Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s party, Yisrael Beitenu. According to most polls, the party was not expected to pass the voting threshold. However, they obtained five seats in the Knesset.

This is a reminder of how difficult it can be for Israeli pollsters to project the voting patterns of Russian-born Israelis, the support on which that party depends.

The most moderate right-wing party, Kulanu, led by Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, outdid expectations by obtaining four seats.

The centrist Blue and White party, similarly focused on combatting corruption, hoped to entice Kahlon into an anti-Netanyahu coalition. But as the last votes were being counted, the sitting finance minister immediately announced he was committed to entering a Likud-led coalition.

The decision was likely motivated by the poor performance of the Kulanu party, as well as a desire by Kahlon to avoid burning any bridges before a potential return to the Likud party. Regardless of his motivation, the commitment by Kulanu to a Likud-led government likely clinches victory for Netanyahu.

Riding out indictments

Despite contending with several criminal indictments – pending a hearing – the Likud party increased its share of seats in the Knesset. This was a major defeat for the rule of law. The Likud will get about five seats more than it had obtained previously.

Due to the erosion of the standing of Israeli institutions in the eyes of right-wing constituents, corruption charges are no longer a hindrance to electoral candidates emanating from that side of the political spectrum.

In effect, Netanyahu has been rewarded electorally for his indictment for bribery. The outcome betrays a general lack of respect for Israeli governing institutions, such as the courts, police and media.

As Prime Minister Netanyahu cements his victory, the challenge before him is whether he will be able to keep himself out of jail. This will require a coalition willing to guarantee him immunity from indictment on the charges he is facing.

The price the prime minister will pay for loyalty is likely to be dramatic and steep. It will include not only the usual capitulation to the demands of the ultra-orthodox parties, but also the possible annexation of the occupied West Bank as well as the continued erosion of any semblance of Israeli tolerance for its Palestinian minority.

Join the Conversation


  1. Usually I don’t read post on blogs, however I wish to say that this write-up very compelled me to check out and do so! Your writing taste has been surprised me. Thank you, quite nice article.

  2. In this grand design of things you secure a B- with regard to effort. Where you misplaced me ended up being in your particulars. You know, people say, the devil is in the details… And it could not be much more correct in this article. Having said that, let me tell you just what did give good results. Your article (parts of it) is definitely highly convincing which is probably why I am taking the effort in order to comment. I do not make it a regular habit of doing that. 2nd, while I can certainly see the leaps in logic you make, I am not convinced of just how you seem to unite the ideas which in turn help to make the actual final result. For right now I will yield to your position however wish in the near future you connect the facts better.

  3. naturally like your website but you need to take a look at the spelling on quite a few of your posts. Many of them are rife with spelling problems and I in finding it very bothersome to tell the reality however I will certainly come again again.

  4. I’ve been browsing online greater than three hours today, but I by no means discovered any interesting article like yours. It¦s pretty worth sufficient for me. Personally, if all webmasters and bloggers made just right content material as you did, the web will probably be a lot more helpful than ever before.

  5. I do love the manner in which you have presented this difficulty plus it does present me some fodder for consideration. Nonetheless, because of what I have seen, I really hope when other opinions pack on that people today remain on issue and don’t get started upon a tirade involving some other news of the day. All the same, thank you for this superb piece and whilst I can not really go along with it in totality, I respect the viewpoint.

  6. I don’t usually comment any sources of income, however today will make an exemption. Check that affiliate program: . I registered almost 5 weeks ago and I am now doing whooping $3000 every 30 days – everything by sharing on forums with referal link. Ridiculously easy income that you can do literally at home. Check this out and post your earning here, so other people could see this is real program. Best Regards.

  7. You could certainly see your expertise within the paintings you write. The world hopes for more passionate writers like you who are not afraid to say how they believe. At all times go after your heart.

  8. We are a group of volunteers and opening a new scheme in our community. Your site offered us with useful information to work on. You have done an impressive job and our whole neighborhood might be thankful to you.

  9. Its excellent as your other posts : D, regards for putting up. “I catnap now and then, but I think while I nap, so it’s not a waste of time.” by Martha Stewart.

  10. Do you have a spam problem on this site; I also am a blogger, and I was wanting to know your situation; we have created some nice practices and we are looking to exchange techniques with other folks, please shoot me an e-mail if interested.

  11. It’s perfect time to make some plans for the future and it is time to be happy. I have learn this submit and if I could I want to counsel you some attention-grabbing issues or tips. Perhaps you could write next articles regarding this article. I want to read even more issues approximately it!

  12. The next time I learn a weblog, I hope that it doesnt disappoint me as a lot as this one. I imply, I know it was my choice to read, however I actually thought youd have something attention-grabbing to say. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something that you could repair in the event you werent too busy looking for attention.

  13. You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this matter to be really something that I think I would never understand. It seems too complex and extremely broad for me. I’m looking forward for your next post, I’ll try to get the hang of it!

  14. Simply wish to say your article is as amazing. The clearness in your post is simply excellent and i could assume you are an expert on this subject. Fine with your permission let me to grab your RSS feed to keep up to date with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please continue the rewarding work.

  15. What i do not understood is if truth be told how you are now not really much more well-favored than you might be right now. You are very intelligent. You realize therefore considerably with regards to this topic, produced me personally imagine it from so many various angles. Its like men and women don’t seem to be interested unless it¦s something to do with Lady gaga! Your individual stuffs outstanding. All the time take care of it up!

  16. I have to show my appreciation to you for bailing me out of this issue. Just after scouting through the the web and obtaining concepts that were not beneficial, I thought my entire life was done. Existing without the presence of answers to the difficulties you’ve fixed as a result of your main short article is a serious case, and ones that could have adversely damaged my career if I had not come across the website. Your personal know-how and kindness in dealing with everything was very useful. I’m not sure what I would have done if I hadn’t come across such a point like this. It’s possible to at this moment look ahead to my future. Thanks so much for your skilled and results-oriented guide. I will not hesitate to endorse the website to any individual who would like assistance about this subject matter.

  17. I loved as much as you will receive carried out right here. The sketch is tasteful, your authored subject matter stylish. nonetheless, you command get got an edginess over that you wish be delivering the following. unwell unquestionably come more formerly again as exactly the same nearly very often inside case you shield this hike.

  18. Wonderful goods from you, man. I have understand your stuff previous to and you’re just too magnificent. I actually like what you’ve acquired here, certainly like what you’re stating and the way in which you say it. You make it entertaining and you still take care of to keep it sensible. I can not wait to read far more from you. This is really a wonderful web site.

  19. Hiya very cool site!! Man .. Excellent .. Amazing .. I’ll bookmark your website and take the feeds also…I am glad to seek out numerous helpful info here within the publish, we’d like develop more techniques on this regard, thanks for sharing. . . . . .

  20. I and also my guys have been digesting the good tips and tricks found on the website and instantly I had a terrible suspicion I never expressed respect to the website owner for those techniques. All of the young men had been consequently passionate to read them and already have honestly been taking advantage of them. Thank you for being simply helpful and also for considering some perfect subject matter millions of individuals are really desperate to be informed on. My very own sincere regret for not expressing gratitude to you sooner.

  21. Excellent blog! Do you have any tips for aspiring writers? I’m planning to start my own site soon but I’m a little lost on everything. Would you suggest starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so many options out there that I’m completely overwhelmed .. Any ideas? Thanks!

  22. hi!,I like your writing very so much! proportion we communicate extra about your post on AOL? I need a specialist in this house to unravel my problem. Maybe that is you! Taking a look ahead to peer you.

  23. of course like your web-site but you need to take a look at the spelling on several of your posts. Several of them are rife with spelling problems and I in finding it very bothersome to inform the truth then again I’ll surely come back again.

  24. I’ve read some excellent stuff here. Certainly value bookmarking for revisiting. I wonder how so much effort you put to make the sort of wonderful informative website.

  25. Hey, you used to write magnificent, but the last few posts have been kinda boring… I miss your super writings. Past several posts are just a little out of track! come on!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *