Israel Election Results: Netanyahu Lacks Majority to Form Government

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Votes being counted in Jerusalem, Thursday.
Votes being counted in Jerusalem, Thursday.Credit: Emil Salman

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud has emerged as the largest party with the all votes counted in Israel's unprecedented fourth election in two years, but lacks an immediate majority to form a coalition.

The Netanyahu bloc, which includes Likud, ultra-Orthodox parties Shas and United Torah Judaism, as well as the far-right Religious Zionism, has 52 seats. The anti-Netanyahu bloc, a patchwork of left, right and centrist factions, is also just shy of a majority with 57 seats.

The Islamist United Arab List party, headed by Mansour Abbas, and Naftali Bennett's Yamina have not yet declared their support for either bloc.

Israel election 2021 final results.

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Netanyahu seems to be at a dead end, with his ally turned rival Gideon Sa'ar declaring after the results that he has no chance of forming of government.

The prime minister aims to bring Bennett back into the fold, while other party members took to social media to endorse a cooperation with the United Arab List, which both Religious Zionism and Yamina vehemently object to. 

His other option is to recruit defectors, but his reported approaches, such as to lawmaker Yifat Shasha-Biton, a member of New Hope who broke off from Likud in December, have been rebuffed thus far.

The bloc for change also seems to be stuck. Although Sa'ar said that "ego would not be a consideration" in building a coalition to topple Netanyahu, his party has rejected the notion of sitting with the Joint List, who went fell to six seats in the elections.

Yair Lapid, who leads the second biggest party in the Knesset with 17 seat, has already met with Labor party leader Merav Michael and Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman in talks to build a working majority.

The Yisrael Beiteinu leader also said on Thursday that he will advance a bill that will prevent a criminal defendant from forming a government, which could ensure that if a fifth election were to take place, Netanyahu will be barred from running. 

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