Benny Gantz conceded defeat to his electoral rival Benjamin Netanyahu over the hotly contested Knesset (Israel’s unicameral legislature) on 11 April. This came after more than 99% of the votes were counted and indicated that Netanyahu’s Likud party won 65 out of the 120 seats in The Knesset (the majority threshold is 61 seats). Now, Netanyahu has become the longest- serving prime minister in Israel’s history. Reacting to the victory, Netanyahu mentioned how he was “very moved that the nation of Israel once again entrusted him for the fifth time, and with even greater trust”.
What’s in store for the future of Israel?
Netanyahu’s Likud party takes a right-wing position on controversial issues surrounding Israel and its neighbours. Netanyahu has consistently pushed for policies that asserted Jewish supremacy over the Palestinians, such as the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank and discriminatory laws on land ownership, right to return, right to residency, and right to family life.
Palestinians and their sympathizers are not happy with the right-wing leader’s re-election. PLO executive committee member, Hanan Ashwari, mentioned that the election has given Netanyahu the legitimacy to “superimpose all of Greater Israel on all of historical Palestine”. Dianna Buttu, a Palestinian analyst based in Haifa and the former legal advisor to Palestinian peace negotiators, said that Netanyahu will have free reign to “continue his policies of apartheid, colonisation, and racism”. More pressingly, Netanyahu got elected because the Israeli people wanted him in power, which meant that Israelis do support his policies of discrimination. Despite Likud party’s majority control in The Knesset, the Arab alliance parties of Hadash-Ta’al and Ra’am-Balad gained six and four seats respectively, totalling 10 seats, which is lower than the 13 they held back in 2015. This outcome could be attributed to low Palestinian voter turnout which will do little to alleviate their plight any time soon.