Netanyahu wins election as Israel’s prime minister 16 months after defeat
Benjamin Netanyahu has once again become prime minister of Israel in the country's fifth election in less than for years.
Yair Lapid conceded defeat on Thursday after nearly all the votes were counted, allowing the 73-year-old Netanyahu to claim victory in the election.
“The State of Israel comes before any political consideration,” Lapid said. “I wish Netanyahu success, for the sake of the people of Israel and the State of Israel.”
Netanyahu’s return to the executive office came as his Likud Party formed a political alliance with two other political parties known as Jewish Power and Religious Zionism.
Religious Zionism and its allies have weathered claims that they are extremists who will target the nation’s minority Arab community, and the LGBT community if they take power.
“We’re not going to hammer anyone,” said MK Orit Strock, a member of Religious Zionism, as quoted by the Times of Israel. “We will serve all citizens, including those who do not think like us and whose lifestyles are different.”
Strock did say that her party wants to “bring order to the public space,” apparently taking issue with lewd, vulgar and pornographic aspects of LGBT pride events.
“Regardless of pride, there shouldn’t be marches of people walking down the street naked or half naked,” she added. “The problem is with years-long efforts, not just here but around the world, to force things on the public.”
Before Thursday, multiple news outlets had predicted a victory for Netanyahu and the creation of a more right-leaning national government.
With 99% of the votes counted, the Jewish News Syndicate reported that the total number of seats for the coalition government had decreased from an expected 65 seats to 64. Nevertheless, the JNS added, Netanyahu only needed 61 seats to have a majority in the 120-seat Knesset.
In 2019, Netanyahu became the first sitting prime minister in the history of the modern state of Israel to be indicted, with various charges, including breach of trust, bribery and fraud.
“This is a hard and sad day,” said Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit in a speech given before the Justice Ministry at the time, as reported by The Jerusalem Post. “I am bringing an indictment on public corruption against the prime minister in three cases. It is sad for me personally and for the country.”
For his part, Netanyahu denied the allegations, labeling the indictment “a political coup” and “a contaminated process,” in which he felt the investigators “were after me personally.”
In June 2021, Netanyahu lost his position as prime minister after 12 years in the role, being replaced by Naftali Bennett, who held on to power with a very slight majority in the Knesset.