Live coverage of Israeli election results

The video link from the Hartman Institute in Israel has expired, but BP staff and Shalhevet faculty are updating this site with news from other media sources.

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Boiling Point Outside News Editor Sam Rubanowitz, Staff Writer Sivan Karz and History Teacher Mr. Jeremy Shine are giving updates and analysis as returns come in from today’s election in Israel.

9:49 p.m. SAM: The polls could possibly swing in Netanyahu’s favor, but it looks like that’s a highly unlikely outcome. As the ballots are counted, it’s only a matter of time before we have a better idea of what the future of Israel will look like for the next four years. We’re in for a few very interesting weeks ahead as parties attempt to secure majorities by joining together. Let the bargaining begin!

9:45 p.m. SAM: Speaking to supporters early Wednesday morning (Israeli time), Netanyahu said: “In the coming days we will convene negotiations to assemble a strong Zionist government and to prevent a dangerous anti-Zionist government.” By “anti-Zionist,” he was referring to the Arab parties in the election, which with an expected 12 seats — up from nine in April’s vote — could possibly become the third-largest bloc in the Knesset.

9:33 p.m. SAM: Well, the polls are closed and tensions are high. As of 9:08 p.m. (PST), 92 percent of the votes were counted according to Haaretz. Netanyahu’s party, Likud, and Gantz’s Blue and White party are tied at 32 seats each, with Likud slightly ahead of Blue and White in the popular vote. 

8:50 p.m. Sivan: Yes, while this is no doubt a different situation than last election, Lieberman still appears to be the key in forming a coalition. He has called for a unity government between Blue and White and Likud, so it will be interesting to see if that’s a possibility that the two leading parties would be interested in. 

7:34 p.m. MR. SHINE: The more that I read about analysts’ reactions to the various polls that are predicting the election results, the more it seems that the results this time round will produce a more complicated situation than last April. Someone might just have to give up on a major election promise s/he made.

For example: will Ganz (Blue and White party) join a unity government with the Likud even if Netanyahu remains the Likud leader? Will the Likud jettison Netanyahu if it seems unlikely the party can form a coalition government with Netanyahu as its leader? Will Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beiteinu) compromise one of his declared principles to make a government possible?

4:51 p.m. SAM: Based on Arabs’ general voting patterns, it appears Arab representation in the Knesset may increase from the current 13 seats to 15 seats (see below).

4:42 p.m. SAM: Arab turnout is especially interesting and definitely a transformative factor in this election. In April’s election, only 49 percent of eligible Arabs voted, according to Haaretz. Haaretz quoted an Arab resident of the Bedouin city of Rahat who said that based on conversations with friends and neighbors in his city, this election’s Arab turnout could be as high as 65 percent at the end of the election.

4:36 p.m.  SAM: I want to focus on the turnout, which is unsurprisingly higher than last election. According to the NY Times, Israeli officials said that as of 8 p.m. (Israeli time), 63.7 percent of eligible voters had voted, in comparison to 61.3 percent during April’s election at that same time (8 p.m.).

4:33 p.m.  SAM: That’s not that different from April’s election, in which both Likud and Blue and White had 35 seats.

4:15 p.m.  SIVAN: In the most recent exit poll on Channel 12, Likud and Blue and White are neck and neck, each with 32 seats. 

4:13 p.m.  SIVAN: Also, unlike in the recent April elections, it appears Yamina, led by Ayelet Shaked, will get around 7 seats in the next Knesset. 

4:11 p.m. SAM: Fifteen seats is potentially a quarter of a governing coalition — an unprecedented percetage. A government requires 61 seats. Sivan, you reported back in May, that the Arabs were only able to win four seats in the election, but that was just from the Ra’am-Balad Arab party. The Hadash-Ta’al party also won five, so there were nine.

According to Wikipedia, there also have been three Arab-Israelis serving in the current Knesset with other parties: one each from Meretz, Blue and White and Likud.

4:04 p.m. SIVAN: The Arab Alliance party is currently at 15 seats. Ayman Odeh says he is awaiting Gantz’s phone call to invite him to join a center-left coalition.

4:02 p.m. SAM:  And the increase in Arab turnout is reflected in the numbers. Sivan, the results so far?

2:29 pm.  MR. SHINE: The Hartman Institute live webcast was insightful. For example, it seems unlikely that the ultra-Orthodox/haredi parties will be a part of a coalition government. The Arab parties have never been and are also unlikely to be, given the possibility of another Arab-Israeli war—Arab members of an Israeli government in such circumstances would be considered traitors by the Arab public and Arab world.

I found particularly interesting Yossi Klein Halevi’s view that perhaps change is underway among the haredim and Israeli Arabs/Israeli Palestinians, many of whom want the parties representing them to be a part of the mainstream; from that point-of-view, the system isn’t working for these voters. Haredi voters might start supporting the mainstream parties in greater numbers; and, a Jewish-Arab party is potentially foreseeable in regard to Israeli-Arab needs.

Last week, analysts expected a lower voter turnout today compared to last April but the turnout was actually slightly higher, according to polls. There was a significant increase in the number of Arab voters, apparently.

Tomorrow (Wednesday) morning we will have the hard data from the elections, and efforts will already have started in Israel to form coalitions. Lieberman’s party Yisrael Beiteinu will play a key role in these efforts. Fascinating days ahead!

9 a.m.  BP STAFF: It’s Election Day in Israel! After April elections failed to produce a strong enough government, new elections were called for six months later — today, September 17.

The Boiling Point was invited to webcast live video news and commentary from the Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, including commentary by Yossi Klein Halevi, Donniel Hartman and Tehila Friedman. You can access this by tuning in to the live stream above.

In addition, Outside News Editor Sam Rubanowitz and Staff writer Sivan Karz will be posting readable updates here throughout the election process.