17:58 GMT19 April 2021
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    While some Twitterians are disappointed that a hawkish and "racist" government might soon be sworn in, for others it is cause for optimism, simply because such a coalition would be able to pass laws that were previously impossible, including the expansion of settlement activity.

    Another major victory for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The initial results of Israel's parliamentary elections show that his party Likud remains the largest, with roughly 31 to 32 seats in the Israeli parliament, the Knesset.

    Opposition leader Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid is next with 15 to 17 of the 120 seats in the chamber.

    People cycle next to a Blue and White party election campaign banner depicting its leader, Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz, alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ahead of the March 23 ballot, in Tel Aviv, Israel March 17, 2021.
    © REUTERS / AMIR COHEN
    People cycle next to a Blue and White party election campaign banner depicting its leader, Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz, alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ahead of the March 23 ballot, in Tel Aviv, Israel March 17, 2021.

    Is Another Round Looming?

    Although the final results are not expected until Friday, social media platforms are buzzing with comments on the elections, and many Israelis say they have a sense a fifth vote is just around the corner.

    "Unfortunately, a fifth round is a totally realistic option. And even more so, it is one of those options that seem to be a given".
    ​"This time, unlike in previous rounds, it looks like we will have another round. Fun to live here".

    These projections are not far-fetched. With roughly 30 seats in the Knesset, Netanyahu will need to gain 31 more to retain his position.

    The way it stands now, his bloc - an alliance of religious parties - is estimated at 53 seats and this means he will need eight more to remain Israel's prime minister.

    Just as expected, everything will depend on Naftali Bennett, who heads the hawkish party Yamina and who is projected to receive seven to nine seats in the chamber.

    Yet, even if he does end up extending his hand to Netanyahu, he will still need to find a defector or two to make sure the magical number of 61 is achieved. So far, Bibi's sixth term is far from being certain. 

    But so is the oppositions. The anti-Netanyahu bloc currently stands at 59 seats but given that it is fragmented, uniting hawkish and liberal parties only on the basis of their desire to oust the nation's longest-serving PM, doubts run high as to whether they will be able to form a government.

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures while standing near a voting booth as he prepares to cast his ballot in Israel's general election, at a polling station in Jerusalem March 23, 2021
    © REUTERS / RONEN ZVULUN
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures while standing near a voting booth as he prepares to cast his ballot in Israel's general election, at a polling station in Jerusalem March 23, 2021

    And if neither of the camps has enough signatures to do that, a fifth election could be a definite possibility. But it is also something some politicians would like to avoid.

    Netanyahu, who now has an opportunity to form a stable and hawkish government will not want to miss his chance. Bennett, who increased his power from previous rounds and who now has a possibility of hammering out a good deal for his party, will not want to risk the group's current achievements. 

    The same holds true for the Ultra-Orthodox Shas that received ten spots in the Knesset, exceeding media predictions, and for the hawkish Zionist Union which is projected to obtain seven seats.

    Dream or a Nightmare?

    For many netizens, such a coherent right-wing government would be a dream come true.

    "You won't manage to beat him [Netanyahu]. Not that fast. We will have a fully right-wing government, with more than 61 seats...once the real results come out".
    ​"We demand a fully right-wing government. We will live peacefully with 61 seats".
    ​"What's good for Israel is a right-wing government. And not the government headed by Lapid and the one that's backed by the Joint Arab List... we want a fully right-wing government headed by Benjamin Netanyahu".

    ​The support for such a government is understandable. For years, Israel's conservative circles have been demanding to expand their settlement activity in the West Bank, despite potential condemnation by the West.

    They have been calling to limit the power of the media and the High Court of Justice known for its liberal attitude, and they have been advocating to take a hardline approach on everything related to the Palestinians, including their prisoners, cash they receive, and the supplies they get.

    An Israeli soldier sorts ballot papers at a mobile voting booth set-up for soldiers to cast their early vote in the March 23 general election, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis, at a military base, near Kibbutz Regavim, Israel March 17, 2021.
    © REUTERS / CORINNA KERN
    An Israeli soldier sorts ballot papers at a mobile voting booth set-up for soldiers to cast their early vote in the March 23 general election, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis, at a military base, near Kibbutz Regavim, Israel March 17, 2021.

    In the past, these attempts were hampered simply because they didn't have enough backing in the coalition to pass these laws.

    Now, with the prospect of a right-wing government nearing, passing such laws might become easier and this is exactly what the liberal circles of Israel are afraid of.

    "...on a personal note, I am sad, angry, and disappointed that Kahanists [supporters of the radical right - reference to the Zionist Union- ed.] and homophobes have entered the Knesset...".
    ​"I am ashamed as a person, a Jew, and an Israeli that people with dark and racist views such as [Batzalel] Smotrich and [Itamar] Ben Gvir will be in the Knesset...".
    ​"Not Bibi... Enough of the rule of destruction".

    ​Meanwhile, Netanyahu has already placed calls to all members of his potential coalition. He is prepared to fight, and this time he might even succeed.

    Tags:
    israeli knesset, Knesset, Knesset, Elections, elections, elections, elections, elections, elections, Likud party, Likud Party, Likud Party, Likud party, Likud, Yair Lapid, Benjamin Netanyahu, Yair Netanyahu, Israel
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