The results of the Israeli elections in September lie ahead of us – and it's still not clear who the next prime minister of the country will be. The results, however, are the biggest threat to reigning Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu since taking office in 2009.
With more than 90 percent of the votes cast, the centrist blue-white party seems to have won the most votes in the Israeli parliament , Knesset – 32 out of a total of 120. Netanyahu's right Likud came in second with 31 seats.
Obviously, neither of these parties has enough for a parliamentary majority. This means that they either have to make some sort of power-sharing agreement and form a so-called "national unity government" or form a kind of coalition of the seven smaller parties that have formed the Knesset. The most important of these is Israel Beiteinu, a secular party whose loyalties are high in the air. Its leader, former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, is commonly referred to in the Israeli press as a "kingmaker".
This is the battle of Netanyahu's political life – and his personal as well. Because if he loses, he has no way to protect himself from impending charges of corruption and bribery. A defeat in the coalition negotiations for Netanyahu may not be the end of his political career. it could be the end of his freedom.
Election results in Israel: How do you make sense of the chaos?
The best way to think about Israeli politics is through two big ideological blocks that are mainly (but not exclusively) defined. positions on the Palestinians, minority rights and the relationship between synagogue and state.
There is a center-left alliance that includes the center-left workers, the left-wing Democratic Union, and the center-left workers. and the common list of Arab minorities (which took a strong third place in these elections). Then there is a right-wing grouping that includes Likud, the ultra-orthodox parties of Sha and United Torah Judaism, as well as the West Bank-friendly settlement of Yamina. (Another right-wing party, Jewish supremacist Otzma Yehudit, did not receive enough votes to enter the Knesset.)
Current results show the center-left block with 56 seats and the right-wing block with 55 seats. Nine seats in the Knesset Knesset go to Liebermans Israel Beiteinu (Israel Our Home), which overcomes the gap.
Lieberman is extremely poor at security and the Palestinians; He supports the annexation of part of the West Bank. This brings Israel Beiteinu into line with the right bloc. in fact, Lieberman had served in Netanyahu's cabinet in the past.
However, Lieberman's constituency – which is largely composed of voters with a Russian background – is also relatively secular and disapproves of the privileges of the ultra-Orthodox in Israeli society. After Israel's last April election, Lieberman refused to join Netanyahu's coalition unless Netanyahu approved a law undermining the liberation of ultra-Orthodox men from compulsory military service. Netanyahu refused to avoid the loss of ultra-orthodox support, but without Lieberman's support, he did not have enough votes for a parliamentary majority. That's why he called new elections in September to reach a more secure majority.
But we now know that this has not happened. Netanyahu's leadership is more vulnerable than ever, and Lieberman is the poll that could help figure out who governs the government.
The next step is for Israeli President Reuven Rivlin to take the leadership of all parties and either Gantz or Gantz charges Netanyahu with trying to form a governing coalition that he believes has the best chance (yes, there is one) President and a Prime Minister in the Israeli system). No one knows yet what task Rivlin will undertake or what kind of government could emerge from it.
Most experts believe that this is a kind of national unity government, which probably also includes Blue and White, Likud, Israel Beiteinu and possibly others. But no one is quite sure who exactly would lead such an agreement.
Netanyahu could remain Prime Minister in a sense – perhaps if he is ready to resign if the charges against him are formally filed. Gantz could become sole prime minister. Another Likud member could eventually take the lead and fulfill Gantz's requirement that Netanyahu no longer hold the premier position. The craziest scenario is that the parties could literally share power – with Gantz and a Likud leader taking the lead alternately. This happened earlier in Israeli politics, strange as it may sound.
Now pretty much everything depends on the negotiations between Gantz, Netanyahu, the rest of the Likud and Lieberman in the back room. Again, no one really knows how to do that or whether a government of national unity is operational. There are also other possible rules, though the numbers make it difficult for a single right or left-hand block to retain power.
So basically everything is in the air. The only thing that we can be absolutely sure of is that Netanyahu, a smart politician, will hellishly fight to keep his power. Given the danger of imprisonment, his last hope is to pass a law defending himself against charges while in office. In order to build up enough support for this obviously seedy bill, he would probably have to remain Prime Minister.
But Gantz largely championed defending Israeli democracy against Netanyahu's personal corruption. It is hard to imagine that a coalition of blue and white elections should protect Netanyahu from the consequences of his own corrupt actions (which would include giving political favors to a large media organization in exchange for positive coverage).
That we can I will not say what the political implications of this election are until a coalition emerges. Personally, however, it is clear that Netanyahu, the longest-serving prime minister in Israel's history, is currently at real risk of not only failing politically, but also serving prison terms.