Netanyahu is in trouble, and other takeaways from the Israeli election

Ponomarev / The New York Times)
Israeli voters went to the polls on Tuesday for the second time in five months. The results aren’t certain, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to gain the support he had hoped for, and Israeli Arabs are poised to become the third largest party in the Knesset.

By Megan Specia | The New York Times| Sep 18, 2019

•  Netanyahu’s reign appears to be fading. He had hoped to achieve a stronger mandate this time around, with the support of smaller parties on the religious right, but he seems to have made no gains and the support of those groups seems unlikely to be enough to form a governing coalition.
•  What happens now? Benny Ganz, whose broader bloc of center-left parties may give him the support he needs, may be able to form a coalition provided he can count on the backing of Mr. Liberman.
•  What will Mr. Liberman do? The secular ultranationalist party Yisrael Beiteinu, which is expected to win nine seats in the Knesset, may have the potential to make or break a coalition. Its leader, Avigdor Liberman, appears to hold the power to be a kingmaker.
•  Arab voters came out in force. The Joint List of Arab parties — a coalition of the four largest Arab-majority parties — has regained the influence it lost in April and looks set to be the third-largest party in the Knesset, according to early results.

A day after Israel’s general election — the second in five months — there is still uncertainty about the final outcome, but it appears the long reign of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could be coming to an end.

As expected, neither Mr. Netanyahu nor his main rival, the former army chief Benny Gantz, a centrist, won enough votes to claim an outright majority in the Israeli Parliament. Crucially, neither seems to have a straightforward path to forming a governing coalition with at least 61 of the 120 lawmakers in Parliament.

That means the contest for prime minister will be decided not by the vote tally but by coalition talks, and Mr. Gantz and his Blue and White party seem likely to be given the first chance to form a government. The support of a smaller third party, Yisrael Beiteinu, could prove essential, putting the power to decide the future Israeli government into the hands of that party’s leader, Avigdor Liberman.

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