JERUSALEM,– The right-wing bloc of former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu won the general elections with a clear majority in the 120-seat parliament, according to the country’s election committee chief.
The count of all votes from Tuesday’s elections was concluded and changes in the results were not likely despite the fact that more routine checks for fraud are still needed, Orly Ades, director of the Central Elections Committee which oversees elections in Israel, said in a broadcast statement on Thursday.
The official results will be submitted to President Isaac Herzog next week, who is expected to task Netanyahu with forming the next government, Ades added.
The final count showed Netanyahu, backed by an alliance of extreme-right parties, would return to power with 64 seats, while his main rival, centrist Yair Lapid and his bloc of the current coalition government, garnered 51 seats.
Netanyahu’s main partner in his upcoming government is expected to be the ultra-nationalist Religious Zionist Party with 14 seats, a faction of three far-right parties featuring Itamar Ben-Gvir, who has described himself as a disciple of the late Rabbi Meir Kahana, leader of the extremist Kach movement which was blacklisted as a terror group in Israel in 1994.
Ben-Gvir, a 46-year-old lawmaker, has several convictions for charges including racist incitement and membership of a terrorist group.
During the election campaign, he promised to pass a law that will grant legal immunity to Israeli soldiers who shoot Palestinians, to deport Arab legislators he accuses of “terrorism,” and to end Palestinian autonomy in parts of the occupied West Bank.
Until 2021, Ben-Gvir had repeatedly failed to pass the electoral threshold to get him into the Knesset, the parliament.
But in the latest elections, the fifth in about four years, his faction emerged as the third largest party and a key partner in Netanyahu’s future coalition.
Ben-Gvir said he hoped to lead the Ministry of Public Security.
The Religious Zionist Party has vowed to make amendments to Israeli law that could get Netanyahu’s criminal trial over his corruption charges cancelled.
As the Bailad, an Arab party, has failed to pass the electoral threshold, only two Arab parties now remain in the parliament, with both Ra’am and Hadash-Ta’al having five seats.
Earlier on Thursday, Lapid, whose centrist Yesh Atid party won 24 seats, called Netanyahu and congratulated him on his victory, according to a statement issued by Lapid’s office. – Xinhua