Israeli Elections Update: 95% of Vote Counted: Blue & White Leads Likud by 33-32

Neither Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party nor former IDF chief Benny Gantz’s Kachol v’Lavan party appears able to form a majority coalition without the support of Avigdor Liberman, leader of the midsize Yisrael Beitenu party. Photo Credit: Flash 90

With 95% of the vote counted, Blue and White leads Likud by one seat. But the two major blocs are even at 56 seats.

Edited by: JV Staff 

The vote count from Tuesday’s election is heading toward completion. With 95 percent of the vote counted, Blue and White leads by one seat, 33-32, according to a World 

Neither side has the 61 votes necessary to form a governing coalition in the 120-seat Knesset. Results show a tie, with the center-left and right-wing blocs each holding 56 seats.

The Central Elections Committee stated that some 69.4%, of the eligible voters cast their ballot on Tuesday, 1.5% more than the April elections, according to a TPS report. With 90.4% of the votes counted at 16:00, the results show that the second round of elections did not significantly change the balance of power in Israel’s political scene.

Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud – 32

Benny Gantz’s Blue and White – 33

Labor + Gesher – 6

The Joint Arab List – 13

United Torah Judaism – 8

Yemina – 7

Democratic Party– 5

Shas – 9

Yisrael Beiteinu – 9

Otzmah Yehudit – 0, failed to pass the electoral threshold.

The main battle is between the right-wing bloc, led by Netanyahu and his Likud party, and between the center-left bloc, led by Gantz and his Blue and White party.

Blue and White and the Likud are tied, but Netanyahu may have better chances of establishing a coalition. On the other hand, President Reuven Rivlin may task Gantz with forming a government following his slight lead over the Likud.

One option being discussed is the formation of a unity government in various configurations.

Member of Knesset Avigdor Liberman, with his nine mandates, could serve as the kingmaker who will decide the identity of the next prime minister. He is calling for a broad liberal government which would exclude religious and Ultra-Orthodox elements.

These numbers do not include the soldiers’ votes, which are usually more to the right and can give a boost to the right-wing parties.

It is important to note that the center-left bloc reaches 56 only if it includes the Joint List, an alliance of Arab parties led by Ayman Odeh. It has become the third largest faction, winning 13 seats.

However, observers argue that it advocates policies that would undermine Israel’s unique Jewish nature, arguing for instance for the “right of return,” which politicians on both left and right agree would spell the demographic end of the Jewish State.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been hammering this theme since Tuesday’s elections, saying that he would do everything in his power to prevent a government that “leans on the anti-Zionist Arab parties.”

It’s not at all clear that Blue and White leader Benny Gantz would himself agree to do so. During the campaign, he rejected the idea after Odeh floated the possibility in August.

In an election night speech Gantz called for unity, but it remains unclear what kind of governmental constellation he envisions. Election observers appear to agree that he won’t lean his government on the Arab parties.

Avigdor Liberman’s Israel Beiteinu party, which ran a campaign against religious coercion, has eight seats. Throughout the election, he has argued for a broad unity government made up of the two main parties, Blue and White and Likud and also his own party.

He repeated this call following the election. His only condition is that the haredi religious parties be frozen out of the government.

The Haredi party, Shas, won nine seats and another Haredi faction – United Torah Judaism – eight seats. These parties can normally be counted on to join a right-wing government. (TPS, WIN)

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