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Lapid concedes defeat and wishes Netanyahu luck ‘for the sake of the Israeli people’ – The Australian Jewish NewsNews WAALI

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News Waali Updates Lapid concedes defeat and wishes Netanyahu luck ‘for the sake of the Israeli people’ – The Australian Jewish News

As the last thousand votes were counted on Thursday evening, Prime Minister Yair Lapid called opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu to abandon the race and congratulate him on his election victory.

“The State of Israel is above all political considerations,” Lapid said in a statement. “I wish Netanyahu the best of luck for the people of Israel and the State of Israel.”

Lapid’s office said the outgoing prime minister told Netanyahu he had instructed all branches of his office to prepare for an orderly transfer of power.

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After all the ballots have been tallied following Tuesday’s general election in Israel, Netanyahu will not only control the largest party in the Knesset, but is poised to return to power and expand a 64-strong majority bloc of his religious and right-wing allies into the 120-member parliament Knesset.

Netanyahu’s Likud will be the largest party in the Knesset, but the biggest success of the elections was the rise of Netanyahu’s allied far-right religious Zionism faction, which includes Itamar Ben Gvir’s Otzma Yehudit party, who for this reason was recruited by the IDF Service has been expelled from its extremist activities and positions and the anti-LGBT Noam party.

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The last of the nearly 4.8 million votes cast by Israeli citizens were counted through Thursday night, with final “double envelope” votes confirming that the left-wing Meretz would not cross the threshold to enter the Knesset, and the distribution of seats was adjusted slightly to one Shift seat from Likud to Yisrael Beytenu.

Otzma Yehudit party leader Itamar Ben Gvir speaks to supporters at the party’s campaign headquarters in Jerusalem at the end of election day, November 1, 2022. Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

The “double envelope” votes counted Thursday were cast by IDF soldiers on bases, in hospitals or prisons, by envoys serving Israel abroad and by people using accessible polling stations. Their counting takes longer because the central electoral committee must first ensure that these voters did not also vote at their official registered polling station.

The final tally is Likud 32 seats, Yesh Atid 24, Religious Zionism 14, National Unity 12, Shas 11, United Torah Judaism 7, Yisrael Beytenu 6, Ra’am 5, Hadash-Ta’al 5 and Labor 4.

The pro-Netanyahu bloc of parties – Likud, Religious Zionism, Shas and UTJ – will control 64 seats, while the parties that formed the outgoing government control 51 seats as Hadash-Ta’al vowed not to align with any side.

Of the votes actually cast, only 48 percent went to the parties in the predicted upcoming right-wing government. But the Netanyahu-led bloc secured far more seats as both the Arab nationalist party Balad and Meretz failed to clear the 3.25 percent hurdle, losing more than 275,000 votes in total.

While Netanyahu personally intervened to ensure that the far-right parties that supported him ran on a common list in this election, Labor repeatedly resisted Lapid’s efforts to negotiate a merger with Meretz, while Balad split from Hadash-Ta’al, just before the party’s registration was closed.

The final results point to a stunning comeback for Netanyahu, who is currently on trial in three corruption cases, and will likely end four years of political deadlock that have dragged the country through a series of exhausting elections.

All eyes are now expected to be on coalition building, with Netanyahu reportedly aiming to complete negotiations within two weeks and quickly return to his former post.

Netanyahu will not formally hand over the mandate until next week at the earliest, after President Isaac Herzog has met with each party leader to hear their recommendations for forming the next coalition.

Herzog has until November 16 to announce which MP he will appoint to form a government, but he can do so earlier. In previous rounds, party consultations at the President’s residence typically lasted two days. Herzog can hold an additional round of consultations if necessary, but most expect the process to be a formality as Netanyahu will easily receive the president’s nod.

Unofficially, Netanyahu’s allies have already begun negotiating work with Shas, United Torah Judaism and religious Zionism to coordinate all of their requests for ministerial portfolios and other demands.

While the three parties are staunch supporters, Netanyahu will still have to haggle with them over political goals and cabinet posts to secure their support, which could involve complicated negotiations in areas where the factions have wide-ranging demands or disagree. Eye.

Illustrative: Then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) speaks with Shas Party leader Aryeh Deri during a meeting in Jerusalem March 4, 2020. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Nevertheless, Netanyahu should hope that he can balance the demands of the various factions in such a way that the coalition remains stable.

According to Hebrew media reports, Netanyahu tasked Likud MK Yariv Levin, an experienced negotiator, with the task of conducting the talks and he has already started reaching out to the factions to start negotiations. Speculations are already afoot about possible future cabinet posts for the four parties set to form the next coalition.

Shas and UTJ are expected to seek to reverse the current government’s reforms, including taxes on sweetened beverages and single-use plastic items, and reforms to the kosher food certification system. Both Shas’ Aryeh Deri and UTJ’s Yitzhak Goldknopf have expressed interest in the Treasury Department, although Deri could also consider a return to the Home Office.

Netanyahu’s far-right allies in the Religious Zionism Party are expected to demand sweeping judicial reforms and prominent ministerial posts. Ben Gvir has said he will call on the Ministry of Public Security, which monitors the police.

Party leader Bezalel Smotrich has expressed interest in the ministries of finance, justice and particularly defence, although Netanyahu is more likely to hand the latter role to Likud MK Yoav Gallant, a former senior general in the Israel Defense Forces.

Luke Tress and Times of Israel contributors contributed to this report.

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