Israeli political heavyweight Benjamin Netanyahu has opened talk with ultra-Orthodox and far-right allies over forming what could prove be the most right-wing government in Israel’s history.
After a year in opposition, and years of political chaos triggered by his ongoing corruption trial, Netanyahu engineered a comeback culminating in success at the ballot box on Tuesday. The veteran politician’s conservative Likud party won 32 seats in the 120-seat Knesset, while his bloc won 64 seats overall, giving the coalition a majority.
Outgoing caretaker prime minister Yair Lapid’s centrist bloc won 51 seats, marking and end to the political deadlock in Israel which has seen five elections in under four years. Netanyahu is now expected to form a government propped up by far-right Religious Zionism, which doubled its representation in the Knesset at Tuesday’s election.
Leading members of Religious Zionism are expected to be offered prominent roles in government in exchange for their support.
Speculation has already begun over whether the coalition will survive the full four-year term, with the two parties sharing very little ideology beyond opposing the formation of a Palestinian state. Several media outlets have suggested the coalition is convenient at present for Netanyahu, who will seek to drop the partnership once he has successfully overturned outstanding corruption charges against him.
News of Netanyahu’s victory at the polls was met more enthusiastically by some world leaders than others. The right wing leaders of Italy and Hungary, Giorgia Meloni and Viktor Viktor Orbán, were among the first to congratulate the 73-year-old on his return to the front line of Israeli politics. Other leaders took less of a congratulatory tone, while acknowledging the result.