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Israel poll: Netanyahu’s rival Gantz leads vote count

Israel poll: Netanyahu’s rival Gantz leads vote count
Benny Gantz and Benjamin Netanyahu (File)
JERUSALEM, SEP 18 (Agencies) | Publish Date: 9/18/2019 11:49:30 AM IST

The September Israeli election results are in — and it’s still not clear who the country’s next prime minister will be. But the results are the biggest threat to incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hold on power since he took office in 2009, reports vox.com.

With over 90 percent of the vote now counted, the centrist Blue and White party looks to have won the largest number of seats in Israel’s parliament, called the Knesset — 32 out of a total of 120. Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud came in a close second, with 31 seats.

Obviously, neither one of these parties has enough for a parliamentary majority on its own. Which means they will either have to make some kind of power-sharing deal with each other and form what’s called a “national unity” government or else cobble together some kind of coalition out of the seven smaller parties who made the Knesset. The most important of these is Yisrael Beiteinu, a hawkish secular party whose allegiances are very much up in the air. Its leader, former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, is widely described as a “kingmaker” in the Israeli press. So who will come out on top here? Honestly, no one knows yet. But there is a real chance that Netanyahu will lose the top job even if his party remains in power. Benny Gantz, the head of Blue and White, has said he’s interested in a national unity government — but only if Likud dumps Netanyahu. This is the fight of Netanyahu’s political life — and his personal one, too. Because if he loses, he will have no way to protect himself from imminent indictments on corruption and bribery charges. 

A defeat in coalition negotiations for Netanyahu might not just be the end of his political career; it could be the end of his freedom.

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