Israel news summary

Israel News for 3-24-2021

News Update

With close to 90% of the votes counted, here are the current election results:

Likud – 30
Yesh Atid – 17
Shas – 9
Blue & White – 8
Yamina – 7
Yisrael Beitenu – 7
United Torah Judaism – 7
Labor – 7
Meretz – 6
New Hope – 6
Joint Arab List – 6
Religious Zionist – 6
Ra’am – 5

If you add up all the Right leaning parties, including Likud, Shas, Yamina, Yisrael Beitenu, UTJ, New Hope and Religious Zionist, you come up with a comfortable 72 seat majority and another stint as PM for Netanyahu. The catch is that Yisrael Beitenu leader Avigdor Lieberman has pledged never to sit in a government with Netanyahu as PM. New Hope leader Gideon Saar has promised not to either. That leaves Netanyahu with only 59 seats, which is 2 short of the 61 needed to form a government. However, the Arab party Ra’am has indicated that it might be open to joining a Netanyahu lead coalition, which would give the PM a 64 seat majority. But having an Arab party as part of the government would be a first in Israel, and having it in a right wing government almost impossible to fathom.

On the Center-Left, Yesh Atid, Blue & White, Labor and Meretz have a total of 38 seats. If you add the Joint Arab List and Ra’am, they come to 49. Considering that the right wing parties opposed to sitting with Netanyahu would never join a left leaning coalition, especially one propped up by the Arab parties, there doesn’t seem to be any path to victory for the Center-Left.

There are still some votes to be counted so it’s possible that a handful of seats could change hands, which could give Netanyahu the majority he needs. The final election results will not be released until Friday.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in an interview that the Chinese government plans to invite Israelis and Palestinians to hold talks in China.

The IDF launched strikes in Gaza early today after a rocket was fired towards Beer Sheva during PM Netanyahu’s campaign stop in the city. According to the military spokesperson, Hamas bases and rocket production facilities were hit.

Senior West Bank Hamas official Jamal Al-Taweel was detained by the IDF early today, along with other Hamas members. Al-Taweel was released from Israeli custody earlier this month.

The Health Ministry reported 679 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, putting the contagion rate at 1.7%. There are currently 500 people hospitalized in serious condition, 207 of them on ventilators. There have been 6,131 coronavirus related deaths since the start of the pandemic.