With 99% of ballots counted Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Likud is in the lead at 36. In fact if the count holds, the entire rightwing block is just shy of a governing coalition at 58.
In most parliamentary democracies someone like Netanyahu would easily form a government, but Israeli politicians on the center-left have turned their refusal to sit with Netanyahu into a religious dogma.
The question is why? After all, no one wants a fourth election. With just three seats to fill, there should be a group of back benchers that will jump ship to join the government if the price is right.
While there still could be, the immediate responses have been negative. The reason for the center-left’s refusal to join in a unity government or even produce some defectors is that they understand that their main opportunity to reverse gains the national and religious sectors have made over the last 10 years is to remove Netanyahu from power. This was the reason for the prosecutor’s witch hunt against Netanyahu and this is the reason for the continued stalemate.
Without Netanyahu, Israel’s Deep State, which has had its power sapped by younger idealistic parliamentarians serving in Netanyahu’s government, would climb back into power.
The Israeli ruling elite are oligarchic in nature as well as secular and Ashkenazi. They disdain tradition and freedom. The problem is they are in the minority and their power is waning. Bibi understands this and in many ways is holding on to buy time in order to see his success and Israel’s successes become permanent.
Will there be a fourth election? Most likely, unless a few politicians put the country over personal vendettas.