Clear Victory for Israel’s Netanyahu with 97% of Votes Counted

The conservative bloc of Israeli opposition leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, was set for a clear election victory on Wednesday, with 97 per cent of the votes counted.

His right-wing religious camp has managed to secure a majority of 65 of the 120 seats in parliament, according to Israeli media reports.

Netanyahu’s Likud party was reportedly the strongest force, with 31 parliamentary seats.

Incumbent Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s Future Party was set to come second, with 24 seats.

For the first time in Israel’s history, an extreme right-wing alliance looked set to come third.

The Religious Zionist Party of Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir was seen as a possible kingmaker for Netanyahu.

The leftwing Meretz party, as well as the Arab party Balad, could fail to clear the 3.25 per cent hurdle.

The final result was expected by Thursday.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh raised concerns on Wednesday about Israel’s swing to the right.

He asked the international community to protect our people against aggressive Israeli policies after racist parties came to power in Israel.

The election outcome was the natural result of years of rising extremism and racism in Israeli society.

He said this in a statement, adding that: “We had no illusions that the Israeli election will produce a partner for peace.’’

Voter turnout was comparatively high, at 71.3 per cent of the approximately 6.8 million eligible voters when polls closed at 10 pm (2100 CET) on Tuesday.

Netanyahu, who was being investigated for corruption, was still eyeing his second comeback as head of government.

The 73-year-old has been prime minister several times, for a total of more than a decade and a half longer than anyone else in Israel’s history.

Netanyahu is seeking to form an ultra-right religious coalition that could help him pass legislation to avoid conviction.

The party landscape in Israel is highly fragmented and interest-driven, due in part to personal disputes and a low hurdle to enter parliament.

Even parties from similar camps are often unable to form alliances. (dpa/NAN) 

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