I woke up just before 7 a.m. to see that…drumroll please…Benjamin Netanyahu has won a fifth term as prime minister of Israel. It was a rollercoaster of a night. Every exit poll had Likud coming in second place, not first. One had them losing to the Blue and White Party, 33 to 27, which would have been the end of Netanyahu as prime minister.
Likud could afford to come in second place, but only by a few Knesset seats. A six-seat gap would have spelled disaster. However, with nearly all votes counted, Likud and Bibi have a slight lead over Benny Gantz’ Blue and White, with both parties receiving 35 Knesset seats.
That is not a Tie?
Why is this a victory for Likud? Simply put, there are enough smaller right wing parties, two considered racist even, that Bibi can work with to form a 65-seat coalition, whereas Blue and White could only muster up 20 new partners, for 55 seats, and that would include the far left (as in, doesn’t live in reality) Meretz (Energy) party and the Arab parties.
My hope, and it is not based on reality, is that Bibi will instead bring the Blue and White into his government and have just two parties—Likud and Blue and White. Why?
Bibi will not be forced to work with racists.
Bibi will not be blackmailed into giving millions of shekels to ultra-Orthodox parties that represent people who don’t want to work (but pray) and despise the Israel Defense Forces and refuse to serve.
Bibi under Indictment
However, it is uncertain if Blue and White would work with Netanyahu, as they have repeatedly said that as long as the prime minister is under indictment, they would not join his government. Yes, Bibi will stand before a grand jury soon who will decide whether or not corruption charges will be brought against him as the attorney general has recommended. If so, how can a prime minister run the country while on trial? Technically, he is allowed, but is that good for the country?
Some have wanted to pass what we call, “The French Law.” In France a sitting prime minister cannot be indicted while in office. If that happens, and I think the chances are slim, then Netanyahu’s gamble for early elections clearly paid off. He has a new four-year mandate from the people and there would be no chance of his being prosecuted until out of office. If nothing else, Benjamin Netanyahu has proven to be one of the greatest political minds in modern history.
Middle of the Night Gaffe
Based on the exit polls, Benny Gantz came out to greet jubilant supporters, and declared, “We are the winners.” But by morning he would have to eat those words, finding that it was more or less a tie. And in this case, the tie goes to Likud.