Benjamin Netanyahu to be Next Israeli Prime Minister

January 23, 2013 12:36 pm 2 comments

Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will regain his position after his Likud-Beytenu party alliance won 31 Knesset mandates, followed by Yesh Atid at 19, exit polls broadcast by Israel’s three leading television stations showed Tuesday and the Central Elections Commission confirmed Wednesday.

Just after 10 p.m. Israeli time Tuesday, Netanyahu declared victory with a message on his Facebook page.

“I wish to thank the millions of the citizens of Israel carried out their democratic right today. According to the exit polls it is clear that the citizens of Israel have decided that they want me to continue in the position of prime minister of Israel and that I form as wide a coalition government as possible. The early results are a big opportunity for many changes that will favor all of Israel’s citizens. The elections are behind us and many complex challenges lie ahead. Starting tonight I will start the efforts to form a government that will be as wide as possible,” Netanyahu wrote.

According to unofficial Israeli Channel 2 exit polls released Tuesday, the left wing bloc stands at 59 and the right wing bloc at 61. The Israeli Channels 10 and 1 showed 58 to 62 in the blocs. Arab parties, which are counted amongst the left wing bloc, garnered some 24 seats in the 120 member Knesset.

At 6 a.m. Wednesday Israeli time the Central Elections Committee released its final results after counting 3,616,947 votes. While the final results could change the overall picture by one or two seats, the joint Likud-Yisrael Beytenu list headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads with 31 seats, followed by the surprise of these elections, the Yesh Atid party led by Yair Lapid, with 19 seats. Labor, led by Shelly Yachimovich, came in third with 15 seats — a number considered a great disappointment for the social democratic party. The ultra-Orthodox Shas party received 11, and Habayit Hayehudi, led by Naftali Bennett, garnered 11 too. The Ashkenazi haredi party United Torah Judaism received 7 seats, followed by Hatnuah, led by former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, with 6 seats. Left-wing Meretz, under Zahava Gal-On, doubled its electoral strength to win 6 seats. Arab-Israeli voter turnout was low, once again, with Ra’am-Ta’al leading the pack with 5 seats; Hadash received 4, and the National Democratic Assembly received 3. Kadima, which was the largest party in the 2009 elections with 28 seats, crashed to 2 seats, and may still not pass the electoral threshold once all the votes are tallied. Far-right Strong Israel did not pass the threshold.

Speaking to party supporters after midnight, Netanyahu said the election results provided an opportunity to carry out reforms that the citizens of Israel were demanding and that would serve the entire country. Netanyahu said his government would be based on five central pillars: “Strengthening Israel’s security in the face of the challenges ahead and especially Iran; fiscal responsibility in the global economic downturn; diplomatic responsibility in our constant striving for a true peace; increasing equality in the national burden, and a reduction in the cost of living with a special emphasis on the price of housing.”

Netanyahu said he would start immediately to form “as wide a coalition as possible” and had already called Lapid, Bennett and Shas. In his speech, former foreign minister and No. 2 on the Likud-Beytenu list Avigor Lieberman said the campaign’s two main goals had been achieved: to secure the continuation of the nationalist camp’s leadership of Israel, and to make sure that Netanyahu returned for another term.

Likud MK Tzahi Hanegbi said the country had given the Likud, under Netanyahu, a renewed mandate to lead the nation. Hanegbi added that there had been a significant change in the electoral map. Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar from the Likud said that Netanyahu would once again be prime minister, and that he would want to govern with as wide a coalition as possible. “The nationalist camp has won the election. Benjamin Netanyahu will be the next prime minister of Israel. He will lead the country in the coming years too. There will still be attempts by people on the left to block Netanyahu from forming a government. But we will now work to build a government headed by Benjamin Netanyahu,” Sa’ar, who is the Likud’s campaign chairman, said after the exit polls were announced.

Voter turnout was especially high as Israelis took full advantage of sunny and warm weather, as well as a public holiday, to exercise their democratic rights. According to the Central Elections Commission, some seventy percent of eligible Israeli voters cast their ballots, the highest voter turnout since the elections of 1999.

Yesh Atid, a new center-left party led by former television journalist Yair Lapid, was the surprise of the elections, garnering 19 mandates. In the run-up to the elections, Lapid would not commit to not join a Netanyahu government, as Labor leader Shelly Yechimovich had done.

Likud-Beytenu’s poor performance seemed to be a result of a migration of voters to Bennett’s Habayit Hayehudi, as well as a general sense amongst traditional Likud voters that since Netanyahu was polled to win anyway, they could vote for other parties. As separate parties, Likud and Yisrael Beytenu had 42 Knesset seats between them. The exit poll results show a ten seat drop.

Just several hours before polls closed at 10 p.m. Netanyahu pleaded with followers of his Facebook page to go out and vote. “The Likud’s rule is in danger. I implore you to drop everything you are doing now and go vote for the Likud. It is very important for the future wellbeing of Israel,” Netanyahu wrote on his Facebook page.

Netanyahu’s message was a sign that the Likud was worried about the high voter turnout in areas associated with center and left wing voters. Earlier in the day, Likud officials sent out messages to their voter base to go out and vote. Education Minister and Likud-Beytenu campaign manager Gideon Sa’ar said he “was worried about the high voter turnout amongst left-wing voters.”

More than 9,000 polling booths opened at 7 a.m. in more than 1,100 different cities and towns across Israel. Netanyahu arrived at the Paula Ben-Gurion Elementary School in Jerusalem shortly after voting began Tuesday accompanied by his family.

“I have always said the Likud-Beytenu [the joint Likud and Yisrael Beytenu Knesset candidate list] represents the entire nation, and in this case, the whole family,” he said in a press conference at the school.

Habayit Heyehudi leader Naftali Bennett voted in his hometown of Raanana. “When I see everyone joining Habayit Hayehudi I know that something new is about to begin among the Jewish people,” he told reporters. “It feels rather strange to vote for yourself; but it is exciting and joyful,” said Yair Lapid, who heads Yesh Atid (There is a Future), after voting in an elementary school in northern Tel Aviv.

The spiritual leader of the Sephardi ultra-Orthodox party Shas, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, arrived at the polling station Tuesday. After voting Yosef issued a blessing to Shas supporters, saying, “those who like God, may he be blessed, will rise and reach the skies.” President Shimon Peres, who voted in Jerusalem Tuesday morning, said “Israelis were given a day off (for voting), and it represents an opportunity that encapsulates liberty — the right to vote in a free, democratic and beautiful country.”

Officials at the President’s Residence took pains to note that Peres will deal with coalition talks and task a candidate with the job of forming a coalition only after the Central Elections Committee certifies the final results, eight days after the election. In accordance with Israeli law, the president will invite party representatives next week to have them make their case on who should be prime minister. He will then have to select the MK who has the best chance of forging an alliance that comprises a majority of Knesset members. The would-be premier would then have several weeks to negotiate the terms of his coalition and swear in his government. The conventional wisdom is that Netanyahu will get the nod from the president, owing to the overall strength of the Right and the religious parties’ tendency to favor more hardline governments.

2 Comments

  • The peace process is still stalled, for a coalition to accept that as a mandate. Likud would have to accept it. Which means a split from Lieberman and the vote but Likud members would also leave Likud. How many is that going to be, perhaps enough that Bibi is a junior partner in a centralist coalition.

    • So if you look at it that way and turn it all around he is kingmaker, the vote will not come from Lieberman, Shas or Bennett. They would need Likud to form government.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Middle East Hamas Commander Reportedly Urges Hezbollah to Join Forces Against Israel

    Hamas Commander Reportedly Urges Hezbollah to Join Forces Against Israel

    JNS.org – Five months after Israeli forces tried to assassinate Hamas military commander Mohammed Deif in Gaza, Deif appears to have signed a letter that the terrorist group claims he wrote in hiding. The letter, addressed to Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah, expressed Deif’s condolences for the death of Hezbollah terrorists during Sunday’s reported Israeli airstrike in Syria. Deif is said to have survived multiple assassination attempts, but he has not been seen in public for years. According to the Hezbollah-linked Al-Manar [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Theater Shlomo Carlebach Musical Has the Soul to Heal Frayed Race Relations

    Shlomo Carlebach Musical Has the Soul to Heal Frayed Race Relations

    JNS.org – The cracks that had been simply painted over for so long began to show in Ferguson, Mo., in November 2014, but in truth they had begun to open wide much earlier—on Saturday, July 13, 2013. That is when a jury in Sanford, Fla., acquitted George Zimmerman of culpability for the death of a 17-year-old black man, Trayvon Martin. The cracks receded from view over time, as other news obscured them. Then came the evening of Aug. 9, 2014, [...]

    Read more →
  • Theater US & Canada ‘Homeland’ Season Finale Stirs Controversy After Comparing Menachem Begin to Taliban Leader

    ‘Homeland’ Season Finale Stirs Controversy After Comparing Menachem Begin to Taliban Leader

    A controversial scene in the season finale of Homeland sparked outrage by comparing former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin to a fictional Taliban leader, the UK’s Daily Mail reported. In the season 4 finale episode, which aired on Dec. 21, CIA black ops director Dar Adal, played by F. Murray Abraham, justifies a deal he made with a Taliban leader by referencing Begin. He makes the remarks in a conversation with former CIA director Saul Berenson, a Jewish character played by Mandy [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Spirituality/Tradition Placing Matisyahu Back Within a Life of Observance

    Placing Matisyahu Back Within a Life of Observance

    Shining Light on Fiction During the North Korea-Sony saga, we learned two important lessons. The first is that there are two sides to this story, and neither of them are correct because ultimately we should have neither inappropriate movies nor dictators. The second is that we cannot remain entirely fixed on the religious world, but we also must see beyond the external, secular view of reality. It’s important to ground our Torah-based thoughts into real-life activism. To view our act [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Nine Decades of Moses at the Movies

    Nine Decades of Moses at the Movies

    JNS.org – Hollywood has had its share of big-budget biblical flops, but until now, the Exodus narrative has not been among them. Studios have brought Moses to the big screen sparingly, but in ways that defined the image and character of Moses for each generation of audiences. The first biblical epic In 1923, director Cecil B. DeMille left it to the American public to decide the subject of his next movie for Paramount. DeMille received a letter from a mechanic [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Exodus on Screen (REVIEW)

    Exodus on Screen (REVIEW)

    JNS.org – The story of the Exodus from Egypt is a tale as old as time itself, to borrow a turn of phrase. It’s retold every Passover, both at the seder table and whenever “The Ten Commandments” is aired on television. But the latest adaptation—Ridley Scott’s epic film, “Exodus: Gods and Kings”—fails to meet expectations. Scott’s “Exodus” alters the source material to service the story and ground the tale, but the attempt to reinvent the biblical narrative becomes laughable. Moses [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Lifestyle ‘Jewish Food Movement’ Comes of Age

    ‘Jewish Food Movement’ Comes of Age

    JNS.org - In December 2007, leaders of the Hazon nonprofit drafted seven-year goals for what they coined as the “Jewish Food Movement,” which has since been characterized by the increased prioritization of healthy eating, sustainable agriculture, and food-related activism in the Jewish community. What do the next seven years hold in store? “One thing I would like to see happen in the next seven years is [regarding] the issue of sugar, soda, and obesity, [seeing] what would it be like to rally the [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Education Seeds of ‘Start-Up Nation’ Cultivated by Israel Sci-Tech Schools

    Seeds of ‘Start-Up Nation’ Cultivated by Israel Sci-Tech Schools

    JNS.org – Forget the dioramas. How about working on an Israeli Air Force drone? That’s exactly the kind of beyond-their-years access enjoyed by students at the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) industrial vocational high school run by Israel Sci-Tech Schools, the largest education network in the Jewish state. More than 300 students (250 on the high school level and 68 at a two-year vocational academy) get hands-on training in the disciplines of aviation mechanics, electricity and energy control, and unmanned air [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.