Netanyahu extends lead slightly in final election count

Final results in Israel’s elections were released Thursday night, giving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s party an extra seat compared with a preliminary tally and making it the largest in parliament, The Washington Post reports.

Netanyahu extends lead slightly in final election count

Netanyahu extends lead slightly in final election count

STEPANAKERT, APRIL 12, ARTSAKHPRESS: But the final count did not change the overall number of seats captured by the right-wing and religious parties he will likely tap to form a governing coalition.

The results, released by Israel’s Central Elections Committee more than 48 hours after voting stations closed on Tuesday, gave Netanyahu’s Likud party 36 seats, compared with 35 for the Blue and White party, headed by former Israeli military chief of staff Benny Gantz. Netanyahu’s former coalition partner, the ultra-orthodox United Torah Judaism party, lost a seat in the final count.

Even before the results were released, there was discussion in some quarters over whether to request a recount as small right-wing factions jockeyed to get into the parliament, called the Knesset.

The New Right, a far-right party headed by the outgoing education minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, said it would “continue to fight” after it fell short of the vote threshold required to be represented in the Knesset by a mere 1,400 votes. The party put out a plea earlier in the day for members of the public to come forward with any reports of irregularities at polling stations.

Shaked had caused a stir during the election campaign with her campaign advertisement that showed her spritzing herself with a perfume called “Fascism,” intended to be a dig at left-wingers who decry her policies, such as reining in the Supreme Court, as fascist. 

Netanyahu is unlikely to be concerned about the exit of the New Right, given his fractious relationship with Bennett.

The prime minister is in the midst of political horse trading with possible partners as he seeks to build a majority coalition in the 120-seat Knesset. Analysts say he will want to guarantee his coalition partners stand by him regardless of whether the attorney general proceeds with plans to indict him on corruption charges in three criminal cases. Netanyahu has denied all allegations of wrongdoing.