Benjamin Netanyahu is on course to become his country’s longest-serving prime minister, for the worst reasons
It should be astonishing that a prime minister can win a fifth term with corruption indictments hanging over his head and a trail of enemies behind him. Though early campaign polls suggested that a majority of voters wanted to get rid of Benjamin Netanyahu, they failed to do so. With only a few votes left to be counted, King Bibi has held his throne. His rival Benny Gantz’s Blue and White party look to have tied in the number of Knesset seats, but Mr Gantz has conceded, recognising that Mr Netanyahu was far better placed to construct a coalition.
In fact, the outcome of Israel’s elections essentially confirms what we knew. First, that Mr Netanyahu is a man possessed of extraordinary political ability and no scruples. This was most evident in his late pledge to annex Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank. The last time he feared losing an election, he warned of Israeli Arab voters heading to polling stations “in droves”; this time, his party Likud placed hidden cameras in polling stations in Arab communities, their purported concerns about “voting fraud” looking more like voter suppression. It is also evident in his skill in forging deals, including with unsavoury allies. If he does indeed hang on it will be in part because of his willingness to boost racist, far-right politicians.