, 43 tweets, 10 min read Read on Twitter
At Likud HQ as exit polls come in
So far early exit polls have Gantz ahead in three of them and tied in one other. At least in one poll (ch.12) Gantz is leading by 4 seats and the 2 blocs 60-60. According to ch.13 tie and right-wing with 66 seats. Widely disparate results. But not a great night for Bibi so far.
So far the pollsters are losing. To be fair, it is a nightmarish election to call with 2 parties running neck-and-neck and a dozen small parties, most of which are close to the threshold.
Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid already proclaiming victory. "The Israeli public has had their say!" They know its premature and the exit polls can turn around but they're cashing in while they can.
Now Netanyahu proclaiming victory: "The right-wing bloc has won clearly"
After keeping Likud activists out of the central election event in Tel Aviv for hours, they are now finally being allowed in. Netanyahu anxious to create the impression he won.
It has to be said, despite the scenes of jubilation at B&W's event and the low-key atmosphere at Likud now, Netanyahu's victory statement was a bit more accurate than Gantz's. 3 out of 4 exit polls say B&W larger than Likud but 3 out of 4 say right-wing bloc still has a majority.
Unless the exit polls are dramatically wrong, the ultimate result will be decided by the fate of the 3 parties currently on the brink. If Ra'am-Balad fail to cross the threshold, Netanyahu wins. If either New Right or Zehut drop out, Bibi's in trouble. If both fall, Gantz wins.
Atmosphere at Likud is not exactly subdued. It's more cautiously optimistic. The veteran Likudniks have seen losses in the exit polls transforming at 3AM to victory and anyway, in most exit polls their bloc still has a majority. For now they think Bibi was right to cry Gevald!
If Netanyahu manages to eke a victory, everyone will talk of his dirty tricks campaign. Quite rightly, but we shouldn't forget Gantz & Lapid focused their efforts in the last week on taking votes away from Labor instead of from the soft-right. Bad strategy that cost left dearly.
Netanyahu expected to arrive toward 1am. Meanwhile a few thoughts on parties that may not have made it in to the Knesset and those that despite lousy polling, seem to have been saved by their faithful voters. For a start here's the scene at Bennett/Shaked event from @RevitalHovel
How quickly Gantz, who hasn't even taken up his seat in the Knesset becomes just another politician. In his "victory speech" he says "the largest party should form the government". Not by Israeli law. The only thing that matters is a coalition majority which he doesn't have. Yet.
So Bennett/Shaked. If they're out of the next Knesset, it is a massive shock for them (and reason for jubilation for every other party, including Netanyahu who would rather have the tiniest of majorities and not see them in the next Knesset). Their sin was personal hubris>>
Bennett/Shaked had a long-term plan to take over Likud after Netanyahu. New Right was to be their personal platform for that purpose. But they relied on their own personal appeal, assembled a mediocre list and a few half-baked policies. It wasn't enough and then along came Zehut>
Too much has been made of Zehut's pro-legalisation policy and not enough of the 1st serious attempt to found an Israeli libertarian far-right populist party. Zehut seems not to have been as popular as polls predicted last week, but got enough votes to probably keep Bennett out>>
The right-wing may have grown somewhat but not enough to create a space between Likud and the national-religious bloc for 2 new right-wing parties. If the exit polls are nearly accurate, Zehut and New Right look like two Sumo wrestlers who have dragged each other out of the ring.
About 5% of the actual vote counted so far. Results for now are meaningless. These from unrepresentative places with tiny turnouts (East Jerusalem, Golan, hospitals, etc). It will take another hour to get any kind of indication of how accurate the exit polls. Probably longer.
The two parties on the right which were in peril and now seem to have survived: Kulanu, remains the home of soft-right voters who don't like Bibi but still won't go over the opposition and Yisrael Beiteinu's Russian-speaking pensioners remain the toughest base in Israeli politics
Some polls last week had Shas close to the threshold. It seems that both Shas and UTJ have retained the 7 seats each from the last Knesset. Considering Haredi birth-rates, that's not exactly good news for these parties. Younger Haredi voters slowly drifting away to other parties.
On the left. Meretz seem to have once again held on to their base, despite the by now standard "save Meretz!" panic attack on election week. But survival can't be a strategy. The Zionist left still has no idea how to reach wider audiences and has some long overdue soul-searching.
In the Arab sector Hadash-Ta'al are safe and Ra'am-Balad remain on the brink. It will be up to the turnout, which we still don't know for certain but if over 50% of Israeli-Arabs voted, they will probably be in, despite Likud's dirty cameras trick and anger over Nation-State law.
The Arab vote will be the subject of much post-election analysis, whatever the final result. Many factors, both internal division and external pressure from right-wing incitement (with centrist indifference) were at play and it is much too complex for a couple of tweets.
And Labor. What a collapse. Gabbay will be blamed for factors beyond his control. Israel's founding party of power has been done down by a succession of hapless leaders and voracious centrist short-term parties: Kadima, Yesh Atid and now B&W. Could Gabbay have reversed decline?>>
Reasons for Labor's terrible result are too complex for Twitter. Gabbay's early mistakes as leader played a part, but the party's team was popular and it ran a strong campaign. Gantz/Lapid's cannibalisation also played a part. But like with Meretz, the root cause is deeper.>>
Gantz could conceivably still be PM despite Meretz and Labor's dismal results but the fact that the Zionist left parties (B&W is not left-wing by any standard) are down to about 12% is a historic low-point for the ideology that founded Israel.
Everyone waiting for Netanyahu at Likud. Ministers and MKs all next to the stage. In the arena, not exactly a victory crowd, not defeat either. Somewhere in between for now.
Nearly 20 percent of the vote counted. Likud leading but from the higher proportion of Haredi votes, it looks like most of the ballots counted so far are from more religious and right-wing areas. Much too early to say whether this changes the exit-poll picture (murky as it is)
While we wait for Netanyahu to arrive, feast your eyes on this glorious @TheEconomist chart showing Israel's entire electoral history
Our @haaretzcom print edition put to bed - "Despite contradictory exit polls: Netanyahu, Gantz claim victory in tight race"
Netanyahu has been "on the way from Jerusalem" for about 3 times the time it takes his convoy to make the way when the roads are as empty as they are now. Seems like he's waiting for a shift in the actual results from the exit polls. Now we're being told he'll be here at 2am.
Still only about 20 percent of the actual vote counted and 2 of the television channels have changed their projections, putting Likud in the lead (by 1 seat) over B&W. Still much too close to call but this will at least allow Netanyahu to come, say "we won" and send everyone home
And right on cue with the change in the projected results, Netanyahu's here, with Sara, kissing the elected MKs
Fireworks for Bibi!
"Netanyahu is in a different league"
The crowd chanting "he's a magician!" and "Sara, Sara!"
Netanyahu: "you remember 23 years ago, the 1st time Sara and me stood here and now we're doing it again, thanks to you... it's a night of a great victoryשהחיינו וקיימנו והגיענו לזמן הזה"
Netanyahu: "you brought an incredible and inconceivable victory against a biased media" (loud booing) "I'm very moved that Am Yisrael gave me its trust again, for the 5th time"
Netanyahu: "I don't remember the last time Likud won so many seats" (under Netanyahu Likud never won so many seat, but under each of its previous PMs, Begin, Shamir and Sharon it received more)
Netanyahu: "the night is still long and these are not the final results... already tonight I began talks with the leaders of the right-wing parties, our natural partners, almost all of them have publicly announced they will support my government"
Netanyahu: "it will be a right-wing government but it will be a government of all Israel's citizens, religious and secular, Jewish and Arab"
Fireworks. Confetti. Kiss to Sara. And that's it, another Netanyahu victory speech over. But has he really won?
3 postscripts. 1. With over 40 percent of the vote counted and all the fieldwork of the exit-polls in, Netanyahu's situation dramatically improved and Gantz's reduced. But small right-wing parties still on the brink and over half the votes to be counted, it ain't all over yet.
Postscript 2. Netanyahu can almost certainly form a coalition but going to be much harder than in 2015. His potential partners are furious at their cannibalization and will demand extremely prices in the coalition talks. Especially because this isn't just about a coalition now
Postscript 3. The election is over and in a few hours Netanyahu's lawyers are scheduled to receive the full dossiers of evidence against him in 3 cases on which the A-G plans to indict him (remember those?). Bibi's 5th term (if he's indeed won) could be a short one. Good night.
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