Jerusalem, November 3: Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid on Thursday conceded defeat in the parliamentary elections and praised opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, whose coalition of right-wing parties secured a comfortable majority in parliament to form the next government and exit the EU. political deadlock in the country.
With 99% of the ballots counted, the right-wing bloc led by Netanyahu took a comfortable lead with 64 seats in the 120-member Knesset, paving the way for its triumphant return.
Lapid, who has served as interim prime minister for the past four months, said he called Netanyahu and congratulated him on his victory.
He further added that he had instructed all departments in the Prime Minister’s Office to prepare for an orderly transfer of power.
“The State of Israel is above all political considerations,” Lapid said in a tweet. “I wish Netanyahu good luck for the sake of the people of Israel and the State of Israel.”
Israelis voted Tuesday for an unprecedented fifth time in four years to break the political deadlock that has crippled the Jewish nation.
According to the latest updates from the Central Elections Committee, Netanyahu’s Likud party will receive 31 seats, Prime Minister Lapid’s Yesh Atid 24, Religious Zionism 14, National Unity 12, Shas 11 and United Torah Judaism will have eight seats.
Among the smallest parties to cross the 3.25% threshold required to qualify for representation in the Knesset or parliament, Yisrael Beytenu will have six MKs, Ra’am is likely to win five seats with Hadash-Ta’al . Labor will only win four seats, according to the update.
The left-wing Meretz party, which is close to the threshold, seems to be moving a little further away from qualification.
The Arab Balad party, which broke away from the broader coalition of Arab parties to become independent, also appears not to cross the threshold.
The Netanyahu-led government would see a sharp drop in the number of women in the coalition.
The current results project 9 female lawmakers in parties that support the former prime minister, with none among ultra-Orthodox factions, according to the Times of Israel newspaper.
Based on those results, the likely Netanyahu-led coalition will have nine female lawmakers, six from his Likud party and three from far-right Religious Zionism, though the figure could eventually rise through ministerial appointments.
The result marks a stunning comeback for Netanyahu, who is currently on trial in three corruption cases, after a short stint in opposition.
Israel has been locked in an unprecedented period of political stalemate since 2019, when Netanyahu, the country’s longest-serving leader, was charged with corruption, fraud and breach of trust.
About 6.78 million Israeli citizens were eligible to elect their 25th Knesset.
Some 210,720 new voters were able to vote for the first time, representing around four to five seats, adding an interesting dimension to the ballot.
Netanyahu’s return to power should see an upward trajectory in Indo-Israeli relations.
A supporter of strong bilateral ties with India, Netanyahu was the second Israeli Prime Minister to visit India in January 2018. Prime Minister Narendra Modi made his historic visit to Israel, the first by an Indian Prime Minister, in July 2017, when the chemistry between the two leaders was the subject of intense discussions.
India and Israel elevated their bilateral ties to a strategic partnership during Modi’s visit to Israel. Since then, the relationship between the two countries has focused on expanding the knowledge-based partnership, which includes collaboration in innovation and research, including strengthening the “Make in India” initiative.
India’s relations with Israel have remained stable and strong even with the rulers in place, showing distinct signs of further progress with I2U2 (India, Israel, the United States and the United Arab Emirates) and discussions around a free trade agreement, but that hasn’t matched the heightened hype so visible with Netanyahu in power.
For many years, Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, seemed politically invincible. But he met with a harsh blow in 2021 after being ousted by an unprecedented coalition of parties whose only common goal was to see him ousted.
Born in Tel Aviv in 1949, Netanyahu holds the record for the longest tenure as prime minister in the country’s history.
After holding the post between 1996 and 1999, Netanyahu in 2020 surpassed the record held by one of the founding leaders of the Jewish state, David Ben-Gurion.
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— יאיר לפיד – Yair Lapid (@yairlapid) November 3, 2022