This week, Israeli voters headed to the polls for their second general election in a year after Likud Party leader Benjamin Netanyahu failed to garner enough support to get a majority of the seats in Parliament and subsequently also failed to bring together a coalition including other party members to get governance going. Now, exit polls indicate that there may be more tension on the horizon — Netanyahu has still not garnered a majority of the seats in the country’s parliament, and in fact, two exit polls of voters’ preferences following casting their latest ballots indicate that the centrist Blue and White Party led by Benny Gantz is in the lead. That could spark Gantz replacing Netanyahu as the country’s prime minister.
No major exit poll cited by the Israeli outlet Haaretz even as Netanyahu’s party in the lead at all — one has him tied with Gantz, and that’s as close as he gets. Remarkably enough, voter turnout was apparently higher this time around than it was during elections in April, ticking up by about two and a half percent. Netanyahu still couldn’t cut it. Since Gantz isn’t projected to garner a majority of seats despite his possible lead either, Haaretz notes that “the two are likely to head to deliberations with President Reuven Rivlin who will determine which of them gets the mandate to try and form a governing coalition.”
Any actual policy changes on Israel’s part that could ensue from a Gantz-led government are still in question. Gantz and his base are generally in line with a right-wing viewpoint on issues, although he’s not the kind of close ally of President Donald Trump that the long-serving Netanyahu is. Trump and Netanyahu have repeatedly extended warmth to each other like they’re old pals or something, and Trump has even spoken out in Netanyahu’s support as elections first got underway earlier this year.
The association seems fitting when you look at the fact that Netanyahu currently faces criminal charges of corruption. He of course denies the allegations inherent in the charges, but they’re in place anyway! The Washington Post notes that Netanyahu “winning reelection could be the only way to avoid corruption charges” — and additionally, possible jail time.
During the lead-up to these elections, Netanyahu also engaged in conventionally Trump-like scare tactics. In a streetside pitch to supporters, he warned them of high Arab turnout at voting locations like they should be afraid of it and Arab interests are fundamentally different from their own. Benjamin’s son Yair even apparently posted a stock photo of voting taken during a Turkish election to point to this supposed crisis of Arabs daring to take their political future into their own hands.
As progressive advocacy organization J Street’s Dylan Williams summarizes:
‘In the final hours of the Israeli election, Netanyahu and his party have:
Made racist, unfounded claims of rampant voter fraud by Arab citizens of Israel
Deployed racist robocalls warning of high turnout by Arab voters
Violated laws against electioneering on election day
Now does that sound like someone familiar to Americans or what?
Featured Image via screenshot