Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party prevailed in yesterday’s Israeli parliamentary elections, winning 30 seats. Zionist Union, the party of Netanyahu rival Isaac Herzog, obtained 24 seats, taking second place. Though Netanyahu must technically build a coalition in order to remain prime minister for what will be his fourth term, his success is all but guaranteed by the results of the election. The contest was considered to be a referendum on Netanyahu’s hard-line national security policies, which, as NBC News notes, have recently put him at odds with US President Barack Obama.
“The citizens of Israel expect us to quickly put together a leadership that will work for them regarding security, economy and society as we committed to do – and we will do so,” said Netanyahu in a statement, cited by Reuters, which outlined his next steps.
Yesterday, Netanyahu raised fears that he might lose, citing claims that left-wing groups were busing “Arab voters” to the polls “in droves.” In a last-ditch effort to win the election, Netanyahu appeased hard-right groups by taking an aggressive stance against the establishment of a Palestinian state and escalating tensions over Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program.
According to Fox News, President Obama responded to Netanyahu’s win by congratulating the Israeli people, but stopped short of congratulating Netanyahu himself.
The above-embedded video by Sky News notes that the Israeli Prime Minister is expected to build his governing coalition from nationalist and religious political parties including Jewish Home. Though Netanyahu is the incumbent, his party’s win is considered an upset as Zionist Union had a significant lead in the polls prior to election day.