With 87% of votes counted, Netanyahu bloc maintains strong lead

Meretz and Balad still under electoral threshold, but one or both mustering enough support to feature in the next Knesset could sour Netanyahu's return to power

Moran Azulay, Yaron Druckman|Updated:
The Central Election Committee reported that by 5:28pm Wednesday, 4,196,105 votes, or about 87% of all votes cast, were counted.
  • Follow Ynetnews on Facebook and Twitter

  • Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud maintains its strong lead as Israel's biggest party with 32 Knesset seats, followed by Prime Minister Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid with 24 seats.
    3 View gallery
    בנימין נתניהו
    בנימין נתניהו
    Benjamin Netanyahu
    (Photo: AFP)
    Netanyahu's far-right ally the Religious Zionist Party will become the third largest faction in the next Knesset with 14 seats.
    Defense Minister Benny Gantz's National Unity secures 12 seats, Shas 11, United Torah Judaism 8, Ra'am 5, Hadash-Ta'al 5, Yisrael Beitenu 5, and Labor 4.
    Meretz, Balad, and the Jewish Home have so far failed to pass the electoral threshold. One or both of the former mustering enough support could sour Netanyahu's return to power.
    3 View gallery
    בנימין נתניהו
    בנימין נתניהו
    Benjamin Netanyahu
    (Photo: AFP)
    Netanyahu's conservative bloc still totals 65 seats with Yair Lapid's center-left bloc at 45 seats. The Arab parties so far appear to have 10 seats in total.
    Meanwhile, power struggles within Likud are already brewing, with staunch Netanyahu supporters, who were rewarded in the party's primary elections, eyeing top ministerial positions that other veteran lawmakers pursue.
    Netanyahu said he would keep the finance and defense portfolios in Likud hands.
    Having made promises to relative newcomer Nir Barkat, the incoming prime minister will have to decide whether Israel Katz, a powerhouse inside the Likud party institutions, would return to his former post in the ministry, or if Netanyahu would keep his promise to the former Jerusalem mayor.
    3 View gallery
    ניר ברקת
    ניר ברקת
    Former Jerusalem mayor and Likud member Nir Barkat
    (Photo: Moshe Mizrahi)
    Another battle is expected for the Justice Ministry, which the Religious Zionist party has indicated they expect to receive.
    But inside Likud, members have marked the ministry as a goal, having themselves pledged to revamp the Israeli legal and judicial systems.
    Two of the self-declared contenders are both loyal allies of Netanyahu. Former Knesset Speaker Yariv Levine and former Public Security Minister Amir Ohana have been outspoken in their defense of Netanyahu after he was criminally indicted for corruption, claiming the state prosecution and the police colluded to trump up charges against him.
    Outspoken Likud lawmaker David Amsalem, who said he would not join the coalition if he was not appointed minister of justice, is expected to back down. Amsalem increased his popularity by blasting Supreme Court Justice Esther Hayut from the Knesset podium, even alleging she made her rulings while drunk.
    First published: 15:42, 11.02.22
    Comments
    The commenter agrees to the privacy policy of Ynet News and agrees not to submit comments that violate the terms of use, including incitement, libel and expressions that exceed the accepted norms of freedom of speech.
    ""