Eternal gridlock: Exit polls indicate no clear winner in Israeli elections

The outcomes likewise signified a continuing shift of the Israeli electorate towards the extreme right, which opposes concessions in peace talks with the Palestinians, highlighted by the strong proving of an ultranationalist anti-Arab spiritual celebration.

Regardless of the undetermined outcomes, Netanyahu declared his Likud celebration had actually declared a “great victory” with fellow conservative celebrations.

“It is clear that a clear majority of Israeli citizens are right wing, and they want a strong and stable right wing government that will protect the economy of Israel, security of Israel and land of Israel. This is what we will do,” he stated on Facebook.

Exit surveys have actually typically been inaccurate in the past, suggesting the results, anticipated in the coming days, might still move the balance of power. Even if the results remain in line with Tuesday’s exit surveys, there is no warranty that Netanyahu will prosper in creating a union.

Yohanan Plesner, president of the Israel Democracy Institute, stated that the preliminary exit surveys suggested the elections were still a really close call.

Despite The Fact That Netanyahu, who remains in the middle of a corruption trial, might handle to develop a narrow federal government, he did not get a license “to overhaul the constitutional makeup of the state,” Plesner stated.

“All three options are on the table: a Netanyahu-led government, a change coalition that will leave Netanyahu in the opposition, and an interim government leading to a fifth election,” he stated.

A number of conservative celebrations have actually sworn never ever to being in a federal government with Netanyahu. And Bennett, a previous Netanyahu ally turned severe critic, declined to back either side throughout the project.

Bennett shares Netanyahu’s hard-line nationalist ideology and would appear to be most likely to eventually sign up with the prime minister. However Bennett has actually not eliminated signing up with forces with Netanyahu’s challengers.

In a speech to his supporters, Bennett said he would promote right-wing values in the next government, but failed to endorse Netanyahu and even took several veiled swipes at the prime minister’s leadership style.

“Now is the time for healing,” he said. “What was is not what will be.”

Bennett has actually indicated he will drive a hard bargain with Netanyahu, demanding senior Cabinet ministries and perhaps even a power-sharing arrangement that includes a stint as prime minister.

In addition, their partners would also include a pair of ultra-Orthodox religious parties and the “Religious Zionists,” a party whose leaders are openly racist and homophobic. One of its leaders, Itamir Ben-Gvir, is a disciple of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, whose Kach party was branded a terrorist group by the U.S. before Kahane was assassinated in New York in 1990.

Relying on the party could be deeply embarrassing for Netanyahu on the international stage, particularly as he tries to court the new Biden administration.

The election campaign was largely devoid of substance and was seen instead as a referendum on Netanyahu’s divisive rule.

During the campaign, Netanyahu emphasized Israel’s highly successful coronavirus vaccination campaign. He moved aggressively to secure enough vaccines for Israel’s 9.3 million people, and in three months the country has vaccinated some 80% of its adult population. That has enabled the government to open restaurants, stores and the airport just in time for election day.

He also tried to portray himself as a global statesman, pointing to the four diplomatic accords he reached with Arab countries last year. Those agreements were brokered by his close ally, then-President Donald Trump.

Netanyahu’s challengers say the prime minister bungled many aspects of the pandemic, particularly by allowing his ultra-Orthodox allies to ignore lockdown rules and fuel a high infection rate for much of the year.

Over 6,000 Israelis have died from Covid-19, and the economy remains in weak shape with double-digit unemployment.

They also point to Netanyahu’s corruption trial, saying someone who is under indictment for serious crimes is not fit to lead the country. Netanyahu has been charged with fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes in a series of scandals that he dismisses as a witch hunt by a hostile media and legal system.

Even Netanyahu’s reputation as a statesman has suffered a bit in recent days. The United Arab Emirates, the most important of the four Arab nations to establish official diplomatic ties with Israel, last week made clear that it did not want to be used as part of Netanyahu’s reelection bid after he was forced to call off a visit to the country. The Biden administration also has kept its distance, a contrast to the support he received in past elections from Trump.

Netanyahu’s Likud Party was projected to emerge as the largest individual party, with just over 30 seats in the 120-seat parliament, followed by the centrist opposition party Yesh Atid, with some 17 seats.

The remainder of the parliament would be divided between some 10 other small parties. These range from an Arab party to left-wing secular parties to a pair of secular, conservative celebrations.

Altogether, Netanyahu and his allies were projected to control 53 to 54 seats, while his challengers are expected to control some 58 or 59, with Bennett controlling the rest.

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.