Israeli election results: Netanyahu stronger than ever, and he’s bringing the far-right with him

Israeli soldiers stand by as masked Jewish settlers throw stones at Palestinians near the Palestinian village of Turmus Aya, north of Ramallah (Jaafar Ashtiyeh - AFP)

Jonathan Ofir 

Mondoweiss  /  November 1, 2022

Exit polls indicate a decisive win for Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing bloc which will bring the Jewish Power party’s fascist leader Itamar Ben-Gvir into the Israeli government.

The Israeli voting stations have closed, and the exit polls have come in. Although the exit polls are not final, they all seem to indicate a decisive win for Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing bloc, with a majority of either 61 or 62 seats out of 120.

Netanyahu is now poised to lead the most extreme and fundamentalist government in Israel’s history.

This is due in large part to the Religious Zionism list which is led by the Jewish Power party under Itamar Ben-Gvir, the disciple of the fascistic late rabbi Meir Kahane and admirer of the Jewish terrorist Baruch Goldstein, who massacred worshipers at Al-Ibrahimi Mosque in Al-Khalil (Hebron) in 1994, murdering 29. With this pedigree Religious Zionism was the third leading vote-getter, winning 14, or maybe even 15, seats.

In recent years the Jewish Power party has grown immensely in its influence, going from being considered illegitimate even for Likud (Kahane was banned from running for parliament  in 1988 due to racism), to now dominating the Religious Zionism merger. New kingmaker Itamar Ben-Gvir is about to receive a significant ministerial post – he has indicated it might be the minister of Internal Security. This would be kind of like having the Ku Klux Klan be responsible for law and order. 

This has been Netanyahu’s hope for years now.

In 2019 Israel was thrown into a series of forever-elections, as Netanyahu was mired in corruption cases. This made him, even to some of his ideological allies, an illegitimate candidate. The subsequent votes were more or less evenly split for-and-against Netanyahu and left the government undecided for three election cycles. A fourth vote last year resulted in a government that was ideologically wide, but largely unstable. That “government of change” seemed united only in preventing Netanyahu from governing and of course didn’t offer any real change in terms of Israel’s Apartheid policies. It broke up in June this year, throwing Israel into a fifth election cycle in three years.

Netanyahu’s goal has been to build a coalition that would be loyal and completely right-wing, which in addition to sharing a political affinity would also give him a better chance at changing laws to help him in his corruption cases. He has that coalition now. Likud has about 31 seats. Religious Zionism about 14. Shas, the ultra-orthodox Mizrahi party, has done better than expected with about 10, and United Torah Judaism, the ultra-orthodox Ashkenazi party, has about 7. This is a fervent nationalist-religious coalition, with a tight merge of only few parties. 

The opposition bloc led by Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid Party does not appear near the 60 seat threshold. The closest it could come is around 58 seats if it incorporated the Palestinian party Hadash-Ta’al with its 4 seats. But due to the Zionist refusal to include Palestinian parties in ruling coalitions these seats would serve as external support only.

No, it appears Netanyahu will not need to compromise to the left. He can now claim to offer Israel stability through right-wing rule. And this is not really inappropriate for Israel, where the right-wing dominates the political spectrum by two-thirds. In this way, this radical government will not even fully reflect the full right-wing nature of Israeli society. 

Jonathan Ofir is an Israeli musician, conductor and blogger/writer based in Denmark.