Israeli Election: With 97% Counted, Benjamin Netanyahu Has ‘Easy Path’ to Historic Fifth Term

TEL AVIV, Israel — Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party narrowly won the Israeli election Tuesday, with 97% of the ballots counted as of Wednesday morning.

His rival, former Israel Defense Forces (IDF) chief of staff Benny Gantz, led the opposition Blue and White party to a strong showing. Both parties will receive 35 seats (out of 120) in the next Knesset (parliament). However, Likud won by less than 1% — roughly a few thousand votes — with little left to count.

Moreover, the bloc of right-wing and religious Jewish parties is much larger than the bloc of left-wing and Arab parties, with the right projected to win 65 seats and the left projected to win only 55. That means Netanyahu is very likely to form the next government, after consultation with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, who will meet with each of the elected parties’ leaders to ask them formally to submit their recommendation as to who should be prime minister.

The Times of Israel described what it called Netanyahu’s “easy path” to an unprecedented fifth term, as Likud won more seats than it had in any election since 2003, and the most under Netanyahu’s leadership. The New York Times had prematurely declared the result a “setback” for Netanyahu when exit polls showed Blue and White leading Likud by as much as four seats. One exit poll even showed a 60-60 deadlock between left and right in the 120-seat Knesset.

Those exit polls reportedly led to jubilation at Blue and White headquarters, and solemnity at the Likud victory party. They also led Gantz to declare victory and to refer himself as the next prime minister. But — in a scenario familiar to Americans — as actual votes were counted, rather than exit polls, the tally looked increasingly favorable to Likud and to Netanyahu. The remaining votes to be counted include solders’ ballots, which tend historically to skew to the right.

The result will likely be disappointing to the American left (including much of the mainstream media), which had been rooting for Netanyahu to be unseated, as the Times report suggests. Netanyahu has a close relationship with President Donald Trump, which he touted during his re-election campaign — and which has made him even more of a target for Democrats than he was when he has an infamously frosty relationship with Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.


more recommended stories

  • Pompeo Arrives in Middle East to Build ‘Global Coalition’ Against Iran

    U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

  • Chinese State Media Defends Iran: 'U.S. Is Pushing the Middle East Closer to War'

    The Chinese state-run newspaper Global Times ran.

  • Trump Pushing ‘Complete Bill of Bullshit’ on Rural Voters

    Appearing Sunday on Axios on HBO, Gov..

  • Seeking Partners: Pompeo Lands in Saudi Arabia for Iran Crisis Talks

    U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

  • D.C. Region Sets Up ‘Sanctuary Congregations’ to Shield Illegal Aliens from ICE

    The Congregation Action Network — formerly.

  • Primer: Medicare for All Compared to a Public Option

    2020 Democrat presidential candidates continue to.

  • Sweden: Multicultural Malmo Sends Staff Safety Tips After Wave of Explosions

    Following a wave of explosions and.

  • Tom Homan Accuses Acting DHS Sec. McAleenan of 'Resisting' ICE Raids

    Appearing Saturday on “Fox & Friends,” former.

  • Reports: Pelosi Asked Trump Friday Night to Cancel ICE Raids

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) telephoned.

  • Eric Swalwell Encourages Hispanics to Take Fight Against Trump to the 'Streets'

    Hispanic voters should take their fight.

  • “Deplorable New Dealers” Will Be Decisive 2020 Voting Bloc

    Writing in Vanity Fair, pundit T.A..

  • Trump Nominates Army Secretary Mark Esper as Defense Secretary

    President Trump announced his intention to.

  • Kobach: Trump’s Victory May Have Saved the Cross

    The Supreme Court rejected a First.

  • Bill de Blasio: 'Joe Biden Needs To Apologize' — It's Incredible He's Refusing

    Friday on MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports,”.

  • Nolte: Media Buried Biden's Love of Segregationists to Protect Obama

    So politicized are the media, they.

  • NYT: Trump Ordered, Then Canceled Air and Naval Strikes Against Iran

    The New York Times reported Thursday evening.

  • Sanctuary City: Illegal Alien Wanted for Attacking His Rape Victim After Being Released

    An illegal alien is wanted by.

  • Hunter Biden Still Active in Chinese-Sponsored Investment Fund

    Former Vice President Joe Biden’s son.

  • Watch Live: House Judiciary Committee Holds Hearing on Mueller Report

    The House Judiciary Committee on Thursday.

  • Every Bad Thing That’s Happened to My Race Is on Democrats

    “Every bad thing that’s happened to.

  • Josh Hawley Bill Would 'Stop Big Tech's Assault on Free Speech'

    Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) said Wednesday.

  • Donald Trump: 'Sad' Democrats Putting Hope Hicks 'Through Hell'

    “So sad that the Democrats are.

  • Watch Live: House Holds Slavery Reparations Hearing

    The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Constitution,.

  • House Minority Ldr McCarthy: Ocasio-Cortez 'Owes the Country an Apology'

    Tuesday on Fox News Channel’s “Fox.

  • California Bishops Decry Call for ‘Ecological Spirituality’

    The Catholic bishops of California released.

  • XFL Legend 'He Hate Me' Missing, Police Asking for Help

    Rod Smart, the football player best.

  • We Can Build Guns That Won’t Fire Without DNA Match

    Democrat presidential hopeful Joe Biden told.

  • Pentagon Sending Approximately 1,000 More Troops to Middle East

    The Pentagon announced Monday that Acting.

  • Buttigieg: ‘I Wouldn't Put It Past’ Trump to Cause Illegal Immigration Surge

    South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg,.

  • Two Shot at Toronto Raptors' Championship Parade

    Two people were shot at the.

  • Pro-Trump Super PAC Eyes Big Investment in 2020 Battlegrounds

    A pro-Trump political group is eyeing.

  • Buttigieg: It's 'Almost Certain' America Has Had a Gay President

    South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg said.