With around 90% of the votes counted, the results indicate that we’re in for another round of uncertainty as to who will be able to form a government, or if it’s even possible to do so at all.
Here are the current results (according to News 12):
Blue and White – 32
Likud – 31
Joint Arab List – 13
Yisrael Beytenu – 9
Shas – 9 (ultra-Orthodox)
UTJ – 8 (ultra-Orthodox)
Yamina – 7
Labor-Gesher – 6
Democracy Camp – 5
Based on these results, the right wing block including the religious parties could have 64 seats, enough to form a government. Unfortunately, Yisrael Beytenu leader Lieberman has vowed not to join a coalition with the religious parties unless they agree to his version of the draft law, which they will not do. And without his 9 seats, the right is left with only 55 seats, 6 short of the required 61.
The extreme right Jewish Power party did not pass the minimum threshold, possibly as a result of the much higher Arab voter turnout that raised the overall number of total voters, and thereby raising the threshold. This factor could have also effected the other smaller parties.
On the left, even if Blue and White includes the Arab parties in a coalition, which no Israeli government has ever done and which they promised not to do, they would still be left with only 56 seats. And there’s absolutely no way that Yisrael Beytenu would join a coalition that included the Arab parties, and the feeling would most likely be mutual. It’s also almost impossible to imagine a scenario in which the religious parties would join a Blue and White led government that would include Labor and the Democracy Camp.
The obvious solution would be to form a unity government between Likud and Blue and White, which is exactly what Lieberman is pushing for and which he said is the only type of government that his party will join. The problem is that Blue and White has vowed never to join a government led by Netanyahu, because of the criminal investigations against him. And it’s very unlikely that the PM will step down or be ousted from his position as leader of Likud.
President Rivlin must now decide who he feels will have the best chance to form a new government. Of course, if no one is able to form a government, then new elections will be called again.