General Election Results in Israel

With the counts confirmed, Benjamin Netanyahu looks set to continue as Israel’s Prime Minister after his Likud party won 36 seats – gaining 6 compared to their situation before the election. This gave Likud one more seat than their main rivals in the Blue and White party and put Netanyahu in a position to form a 65-seat coalition with five other parties. That coalition would have a majority of 10 over the opposition.

BICOM graphical presentation of results

Graphical presentation of the results by BICOM

Benny Gantz, leader of the Blue and White party phoned Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday to say:

“With the … announcement of final results, I congratulate you on the achievement in the elections,
we will continue to serve the citizens of Israel and I wish you and all of Israel a happy holiday.”

Overall, the results mean that there has been a shift towards right-wing parties and policies. What may surprise some in other countries is that the younger generation in Israel seem to be driving this shift, on average being more right-wing than their parents.

Survey on right-wing voters
Survey of those who identify as right wing. (Laura E. Adkins/JTA)

But that shift did not help the New Right party, recently formed by Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked. In the big surprise of the election, they failed to achieve the 3.25% of the vote necessary to win any seats in the Knesset. That represents a steep fall in fortunes for two successful politicians who were Education Minister and Justice Minister, respectively.

Not surprising is the fact that many Palestinians see the election result as a major blow. Many people thought the election campaign was riddled with anti-Palestinian statements that they perceived to be racist. Especially when Netanyahu announced that he would annex the West Bank settlements if he won.

It seems that only 10 out of the new 120 Knesset members will support equality for Palestinians, 10 that come from the predominantly Arab political parties.

Others point out that this major blow was largely an ‘own goal’ scored by Arab Israelis. Despite the importance of the election, as many as half of Arab Israelis who are eligible to vote chose a ‘protest’ policy of declining to do so. This apparent apathy may have sent a significant signal to Israel’s leaders.

It seems that some Arab Israelis were protesting over corruption and divisions within the Arab coalition called the ‘Joint List.’ Thus the Arab politicians fell well short of a possible 24 seats in the Knesset and will only – down on the Joint List’s previous 13 seats.