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Israel Now News is Israel's most comprehensive source for breaking news and current events from Israel and the Jewish world.

Israel On a Political Deadlock, No Clear Winner For Election

Cynthia Lorraine Silva Staff Writer
Published on March 30, 2021
Israel On a Political Deadlock, No Clear Winner For Election
Politics Politics

On Thursday, Israel faced a political deadlock after no political candidate was able to garner the majority of votes needed to win the Knesset or the country’s parliament. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara cast their ballots at a polling station in Jerusalem

For the fourth time in a row, the country’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu continues to fall short in securing the necessary seats he needed for a clear victory. Overall, Netanyahu and his right-wing party members received a total of 52 votes while his opponents received 57. On the other hand, two other political parties remained undecided, the Yamina, with 7 seats, and the Ra’am, with 4 seats 

Generally, a candidate needed to secure 61 votes out of the 120 seats in Parliament to win the majority. With both sides in a tight deadlock, Netanyahu must win the support of the two undecided parties. The results also brought suggestions of a potential fifth election. 

In fact, reports revealed a possible “change coalition” which includes the alliance of political parties such as the Yisrael Beytenu, Labor, New Hope, Meretz, Yesh Atid, Blue and White, Yamina. The new coalition is expected to bring in 58 votes, although it still lacked three seats to win the majority. 

Some party leaders also discussed the possibility of an Israel without Netanyahu. In a meeting, Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid and Labor chief Merav Michaeli shared that they are planning to establish a coalition without Israel’s dominant political figure. 

However, New Hope party leader Gideon Sa’ar warned about the possible ramifications of building a coalition without the Prime Minister.

New Hope party leader Gideon Sa’ar.

While Sa’ar admitted that “it is clear that Netanyahu doesn’t have a majority for a coalition headed by him,” he believed that Lapid and Michaeli’s new alliance imposes a danger to the country’s democracy. “The ‘change bloc’ is a whitewashed name for an anti-democratic bloc. The only real change they want is to bring laws that exist only in Iran to limit candidates and to annul the democratic votes of over a million Israeli citizens,” the New Hope Party leader said. 

On the other hand, the head of the Religious Zionist Party, Bezalel Smotrich announced their decision. 

Head of the Religious Zionist Party, Bezalel Smotrich.

Smotrich closed down any possibility of an alliance between Israel’s Islamist party and its Jewish religious party. “There won’t be a right-wing government with the support of Abbas,” Smotrich said. 

Netanyahu had earned his place as one of the country’s most dominant political figures. In the past year, he was able to prove himself as a strong leader who is capable of leading the country during the coronavirus pandemic. In fact, while other western countries continued to struggle with the third wave of COVID-19 infections, the Prime Minister was able to create a world-leading coronavirus vaccination campaign. 

With a robust vaccination program, Israel is starting to regain a sense of normalcy. Recently, the country even reported its lowest infection rate at only 1.3 percent. 

Aside from his successful coronavirus program, Netanyahu’s regime is also considered one of the most peaceful decades in Israel’s history. From 2009 to 2019, the country saw no major Arab-Israeli war. Under his leadership, the country avoided conflict with militant troops such as Hezbollah, as well as with neighbouring Muslim countries such as Iran, and Syria. 

Netanyahu was able to strengthen the country’s diplomatic ties by being the first Israeli leader who had visited South and Central America. With a decade-long achievement, the country’s longest-sitting Prime Minister hoped that it would be enough to steer the votes and win the Parliament’s majority.  The Prime Minister projected ahead of the final results that the recent election will be a “huge win for the right”.