Political change is coming to Israel as the country put pen to paper in the recent election. The election brought up the possibility of a comeback for Benjamin Netanyahu.
The former Israeli Prime Minister, who is currently on trial for corruption, last led the country from 2009 until 2021, when he was ousted by Yair Lapid who led a rotating government.
However, Netanyahu’s rise to the top of Israeli politics has also been backed by the country’s far-right factions. This includes the Religious Zionism party, which has formed a coalition with Netanyahu’s Likud party.
It marks a dramatic swing in Israeli politics. Many of the far-right, ultra-nationalist parties backing Netanyahu’s revival were cast out of mainstream politics only a few years ago.
With political change underway in Israel, we take a look at the results and context around the vote. Here’s everything you need to know about the Israel Election 2022.
What were the results of the Israel election 2022?
The results of the election showed a win for Netanyahu and his Likud party with around 90% of votes counted. The party was projected to win 32 seats out of 120 in the Knesset parliament.
This number alone would not be enough to push Netanyahu over the line. The Religious Zionism party and other ultra-nationalist parties were expected to pick up 32 seats, and entered into a coalition with the Likud party to take the party over the line.
In comparison, Yair Lapid - Netanyahu’s successor in 2021 - won a significant proportion of seats, but not enough to beat Netanyahu’s coalition. While leader of the country, Lapid co-led a coalition of parties, including Yesh Atid, Blue and White, Yamina, the Labor Party, Yisrael Beiteinu, New Hope, Meretz, and the United Arab List. This coalition gained only 52 seats between them in the election.
Is Benjamin Netanyahu Prime Minister of Israel again?
The results of the election means that, yes, Netanyahu is once again Prime Minister of Israel. He is likely to be invited by the country’s President, Issac Herzog, to form a new government - a process which could take place next week.
Netanyahu would then have 28 days to form his government. With the current coalition of ultra-nationalist parties under his wing, it is likely that some far-right candidates will take a place in his cabinet and government, making it one of the most right-wing Israeli governments in history.
Religious Zionism leaders Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich have previously caused controversy when speaking about “disloyal” people against Israel, and also when using anti-Arab sentiments. Ben-Gvir has also been convicted of incitement to racism and supporting a terrorist organisation, while also being filmed pulling a gun on people in the Palestinian Sheikh Jarrah district of Jersusalem.
Following his party’s unprecedented success at the election, Ben-Gvir told reporters that he would work for everyone, adding “even those who hate me”. His party also pledged that if they were to be appointed to government, it would remove the crimes of fraud and breach of trust, two crimes which Netanyahu is currently on trial for.
Why is Netanyahu on trial for corruption?
Netanyahu had been under investigation for corruption since January 2017. Police launched the investigation following suspicions that he had committed fraud, breach of trust and bribery in several cases.
Among these cases, he is accused of committing such crimes while attempting to strike a deal with Israeli newspaper group Yedioth Ahronot, in which he offered to legislate to strengthen the group’s position against competitors in exchange for favourable news coverage. He is also alleged to have sought to obtain favours from businessmen.
Following two years of investigating, Netanyahu was formally indicted in November 2019, before being charged in January 2020. He was due to stand trial for the allegations in May 2020, however this was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Witness testimony began in April 2021, however the trial is still ongoing. He is the first sitting Israeli Prime Minister to be charged with a crime, and could potentially face up to 13 years in prison if found guilty on all counts.