EXPLAINER: Who won Israel’s latest election?

Nov 1, 2022, 5:28 AM | Updated: 5:53 pm
Israeli far-right lawmaker and the head of "Jewish Power" party, Itamar Ben-Gvir, gestures after fi...

Israeli far-right lawmaker and the head of "Jewish Power" party, Itamar Ben-Gvir, gestures after first exit poll results for the Israeli Parliamentary election at his party's headquarters in Jerusalem, Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Oren Ziv)

(AP Photo/Oren Ziv)

For the fifth time in four years, Israelis went to the polls, and once again, no clear victor immediately emerged.

Exit polls by Israeli media gave former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his nationalist and religious allies a slight edge early Wednesday, but the final tally could change as the official count is conducted.

Already, there was talk that a small Arab nationalist party could play spoiler, leaving Netanyahu and his opponents evenly split in Israel’s Knesset, or parliament, and putting the country on track for yet another election early next year.

Meanwhile, a Jewish ultranationalist faction was projected to become the third-largest party in the Knesset. It would gain unprecedented clout in a Netanyahu-led government — but only if one can be formed.

Here’s a look at where the election results stand.

___

WHAT WERE THE RESULTS OF ISRAEL’S ELECTION?

Official results won’t be published until later this week, but exit polls carried out by Israel’s three main TV channels projected that Netanyahu and his allies will win 61 to 62 seats in the 120-member Knesset, just enough to form a government.

His opponents, an array of parties from across the political spectrum currently led by caretaker Prime Minister Yair Lapid, a political centrist, were projected to win 54 seats.

A small Arab nationalist party, Balad, was reportedly close to the electoral threshold of 3.25% of the vote. If it passes that threshold, it would gain four seats and erase Netanyahu’s edge. If it falls short, those votes would be wasted, strengthening Netanyahu’s camp.

No political party has ever won an outright majority in Israel, so larger parties like Netanyahu’s Likud must assemble majority coalitions with smaller ones, which can involve weeks of negotiations. That process can only really begin once the official results are in.

___

WHAT WAS THE MAIN ISSUE IN ISRAEL’S ELECTION?

This election, like the previous four going back to 2019, was largely centered on Netanyahu, who is on trial for serious corruption charges and remains a deeply polarizing figure.

Netanyahu was Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, holding the office for 12 straight years — after an initial three-year run in the 1990s — before being ousted by a broad but fragile coalition last year.

His supporters view him as a champion of Israel’s nationalist right and a master statesman who is the victim of a witch hunt by political opponents in Israel’s judiciary, law enforcement and media.

Netanyahu’s critics view him as a crook who threatens Israel’s democratic institutions by placing his legal woes above the national interest.

With the focus on Netanyahu, Israel’s decades-long conflict with the Palestinians has been left on the back burner in recent elections, even as violence has steadily risen and hard-liners on both sides have gained popularity.

___

WHO ARE THE FAR-RIGHT POLITICIANS GAINING INFLUENCE IN ISRAEL?

The only clear winner from the elections so far is Itamar Ben-Gvir, a far-right politician who has moved from Israel’s ultranationalist fringe to the mainstream as the country has drifted rightwards over the past two decades.

His Religious Zionism faction, formally led by another far-right figure, Bezalal Smotrich, is projected to win 14 to 15 seats and emerge as the third-largest party in the Knesset. If Netanyahu forms a government, Ben-Gvir is expected to request a Cabinet post as the minister in charge of police.

Ben-Gvir is a disciple of Rabbi Meir Kahane, an anti-Arab racist who called for the mass deportation of Palestinians and stripping Arabs of Israeli citizenship. His Kach party was banned in Israel and outlawed as a terrorist organization in the United States, and Kahane was shot dead in 1990.

Ben-Gvir, who was convicted of incitement and supporting terrorism years ago and has represented Jewish extremists facing similar charges, has been careful to publicly distance himself from Kahane’s most extreme beliefs.

But he has still called for the deportation of Arab lawmakers, the death sentence for convicted terrorists and greater immunity for Israeli security forces battling Palestinian militants.

Ben-Gvir also makes frequent, provocative appearances in areas where Israeli-Palestinian tensions are running high, often exacerbating them before TV cameras. Last month he brandished a handgun in a tense Jerusalem neighborhood while shouting at police to fire on Palestinian stone-throwers.

___

WHAT WOULD A NETANYAHU-LED GOVERNMENT LOOK LIKE?

If the exit polls hold and Netanyahu is able to form a government with his natural allies, it would be the most extreme right-wing coalition in Israel’s history.

Any peace negotiations with the Palestinians, which collapsed shortly after Netanyahu last ascended to the premiership in 2009, would be virtually unthinkable. That could heighten tensions with the Biden administration, which supports a two-state solution, as well as Israel’s allies in the U.S., particularly the more liberal Jewish-American community.

A Netanyahu-led government could enact reforms that would make his legal woes disappear, something that critics say would undermine Israel’s democracy and the rule of law.

Netanyahu’s supporters have sought to tamp down such worries, saying any changes to the legal code would not apply in his case and that he can rein in more extreme coalition partners like Ben-Gvir. But that could prove difficult if — as the polls project — Religious Zionism accounts for a quarter of the coalition’s seats in parliament.

If Netanyahu fails to form a government, the country will most likely head to elections again in March, potentially giving him yet another shot at returning to power.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

(AP Photo/Paula Bronstein, File)...
Associated Press

Inslee touts new housing program for Spokane’s homeless

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee was in Spokane Monday to preview the opening of a new housing project for homeless people, calling the Catalyst Project a step toward ending the state’s homelessness crisis.
7 hours ago
Associated Press

Legislator hospitalized after brawl in Turkey’s parliament

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — An opposition legislator in Tuesday was hospitalized Tuesday following a brawl that broke out in the country’s parliament during a tense debate over next year’s budget. Television footage showed dozens of lawmakers from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling party and from opposition parties engaged in a tussle. Some legislators threw punches […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Police fatally shoot man who allegedly had gun in St. Paul

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Police in Minnesota say an officer fatally shot a man who they say displayed a handgun as they were trying to arrest him. The St. Paul Police Department said Tuesday that officers were responding to a domestic assault Monday evening and were told by the caller that the man had […]
1 day ago
FILE - In this April 28, 2020, file photo Medical personnel attend a daily 7 p.m. applause in their...
Associated Press

Foundations, major donors tackle nation’s nursing shortage

As more nurses leave their jobs in hospitals and health-care centers, foundations are pouring millions of dollars into efforts to ensure that more stay in the profession and get more out of the job than just the applause and pats on the back they got during the bleakest days of the pandemic. Philanthropic pledges announced […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Croatian military plane crashes during training flight

ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) — A Croatian MiG-21 military jet crashed during a training flight Tuesday, the country’s Ministry of Defense said. The crash happened in an uninhabited forested area in the northeast of the country around 2 p.m. (1300 GMT). A search team was looking for the crew, the ministry statement said. No other details […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Turkey says Finland must end arms embargo to join NATO

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Finland must publicly declare that it’s lifting an arms embargo on Turkey to win Ankara’s approval for its membership to NATO, the Turkish foreign minister said Tuesday. Mevlut Cavusoglu made the comments ahead of visit by Finland’s Defense Minister Antti Kaikkonen, who will be discussing his nation’s bid to join the […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
EXPLAINER: Who won Israel’s latest election?