Incumbent Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has defeated rival Benjamin Gantz in this week’s election.
As results began being released from Monday’s elections, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Likud Party appeared on track to receive 36 or 37 seats, ahead of Blue and White’s 33 or 34 seats. Together with Likud’s political allies, Prime Minister Netanyahu can count on around 59 votes in the Knesset, which falls two short of the 61-seat threshold for a majority government.
The votes are still being tallied on Tuesday, meaning that the results could fluctuate somewhat.
Should Likud and its allies not obtain a majority of seats outright, Prime Minister Netanyahu will need to enter dialogue with other parties over a coalition agreement. The Jerusalem Post reported that Prime Minister Netanyahu hopes to form a majority government within the next few weeks. A trial for the prime minister, who is under investigation related to bribery, fraud, and breach of trust allegations, begins on March 17.
Monday’s election is Israel’s third within a year. After the two previous votes, both held in 2019, neither Netanyahu nor Gantz could form a majority government, leaving Netanyahu’s administration in place as a caretaker interim government. A fourth election could be possible in the event that a majority government cannot be formed after Monday’s vote.
While the Israeli political gridlock has continued, the country’s budget has remained frozen at last year’s level. Moreover, some key decisions – such as the military’s choice of a new fighter jet – have been put on hold, pending the formation of a new government.