After 100 percent of the ballots had been counted on Thursday, the Likud Party got 36 mandates in the Knesset, while the main rival Blue and White alliance secured 35 seats, local media reported, citing the official results of the Israeli general election.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, 69, has reportedly secured his fifth consecutive term as prime minister by leading his right-wing Likud Party to a victory over a retired general and a former journalist, who teamed up to remove him from power and put an end to 10 years of dominance by the right wing in the country.
However, the New Right Party, which did not pass the election threshold, responded, cited by the Israel Public Broadcasting corporation, that the published results are not final, and vowed to continue “the political fight”, adding, “We expect the media to discover a little more seriousness in their reports. We’re not giving up”.
No party in the Israeli political history has ever won a majority of seats in the 120-seat Knesset, with the country being run by coalition governments. According to the latest data, apart from the main contenders — Likud and the Blue and White alliance — the smaller parties had the following results: Shas won eight seats; United Torah Judaism won seven seats; Hadash-Ta’al and Labor won six seats each; Yisrael Beiteinu and United Right won five mandates each; Meretz, Kulanu and Ra’am-Balad each won four seats.
Netanyahu announced on Tuesday the victory of the right-wing camp and his intention to start forming a ruling coalition ahead of the release of the official results. His main rival, Benny Gantz, had also claimed victory for his Blue and White alliance, saying he would start forming a new cabinet.
The Blue and White alliance, also known as Kahol Lavan, which means blue and white in Hebrew and represents the colors of the Israeli flag, was formed in late February by Gantz and journalist-turned-politician Yair Lapid in a bid to defeat Netanyahu and his ruling Likud Party.
According to media reports, Likud and the Blue and White are nearly neck and neck, but Likud enjoys the support of proven allies in the new Knesset. Therefore, it will be able to form another right-religious coalition that will be sustainable and strong due to the absence of irreconcilable ideological divides.
Netanyahu said earlier that he had already started coalition talks with right-wing parties.