AIWA! NO!||Benjamin Netanyahu appeared to be headed toward a historic fifth term as Israel’s prime minister on Wednesday, with close-to-complete unofficial election results giving his right-wing Likud and other nationalist and religious parties a solid majority in parliament.
The outcome affirmed Israel’s continued tilt to the right and further dimmed hopes of a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Re-election will also give Netanyahu an important boost as he braces for the likelihood of criminal charges in a series of corruption scandals.
With 97.4% of the vote counted, Likud and its traditional political allies were in command of a 65-55 majority in parliament. A couple of small parties were still teetering along the electoral threshold and fighting for their survival, so the final makeup of the next parliament has yet to be decided. Final results were expected Thursday.
Two of his potential allies, hawkish former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman and economic-centric Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, have yet to formally confirm they would sit with Netanyahu and could emerge as wildcards. In any case, the country now faces what could be weeks of political negotiations over the composition of a ruling coalition.