With 99 percent of the ballots counted by Wednesday morning, it was clear that Benjamin Netanyahu had for the fourth time been elected as Israel’s prime minister.
Netanyahu’s Likud Party ended up winning 30 out of 120 Knesset seats. The opposition “Zionist Union” made a good showing with 24 seats, but it wasn’t enough to propel party leader Isaac “Buji” Herzog to the premiership.
As expected, and to the great concern of some, the newly forged United Arab List became the Knesset’s third largest faction with 14 seats.
While there were few surprises with the smaller parties, the most recent pre-election surveys had shown Herzog unseating Netanyahu. Even preliminary results late Tuesday night had Likud and the Zionist Union neck-and-neck with 27 seats each, making it entirely unclear who would be tapped by President Reuven Rivlin to form the next government.
But hours later as the final ballots were tallied, there was no question that not only had Netanyahu won, he had effectively laid the groundwork facilitating the formation of a stable right-wing coalition. Gone was the need to rely on the center-left factions that had caused Netanyahu so many headaches in the previous government.