counting the vote
counting the vote צילום: רפי בן חקון לע"מ

The counting of votes continues following yesterday's Knesset election, and it remains unclear whether there will be a new government or if Israel is heading for a fifth round of elections.

According to the current count, the right-wing bloc under Prime Minister Netanyahu has only 59 seats, two less than the 61 needed to form a coalition. This is even with the participation of the Yamina party.

Political sources have told Arutz Sheva that Netanyahu is looking into the possibility of entering into negotiations with the United Arab List (Ra’am), which is led by MK Mansour Abbas, to secure their support for the formation of a new Netanyahu-led government. According to the sources, Netanyahu would seek to form a minority government which would rely on the votes of the UAL from outside the coalition.

Another possibility being examined by Netanyahu is exerting pressure on right-wing MKs from the anti-Netanyahu bloc in the New Hope and Blue and White parties to join the coalition to form a majority government of 61 MKs.

New Hope chairman Gideon Sa'ar is expected to hold fast to his campaign promise to refuse to join a Netanyahu-led government, but the Likud hopes that it can make tempting offers to compel New Hope members Zeev Elkin and Yifat Shasha Biton to leave the opposition. In addition, the Likud is looking to make an offer to MK Pnina Tamano-Shata from Blue and White.

Just two days ago, Prime Minister Netanyahu was interviewed by the Knesset channel and pledged not to cooperate with Mansour Abbas and the UAL party: "I pledge you now that I will not form a government with the support of Mansour Abbas," Netanyahu said.

With 88% of the vote counted, the Likud currently stands at 30 seats. Yesh Atid has 17 seats, Shas nine seats, Blue and White eight seats, United Torah Judaism seven seats, Yamina seven seats, Labor seven seats, Yisrael Beytenu seven seats, Religious Zionism six seats, the Joint Arab List six seats, New Hope six seats, Meretz five seats, and the United Arab List five seats.

Reports of possible negotiations with the UAL sparked controversy within the Likud party.

MK Shlomo Karhi, who is staunchly opposed to relying on the UAL’s support to form a government, on Wednesday blasted Minister Tzachi HaNegbi, after HaNegbi called to open talks with the UAL’s chief, MK Mansour Abbas.

“We are prepared to enter into negotiations with Mansour Abbas, even if he is in the Opposition,” HaNegbi told Channel 12 Wednesday morning. “Why shouldn’t it happen? Let him [Abbas] vote for [our government], we have no problem with that. He won’t be a part of our coalition or government.”

Karhi responded on Twitter, writing: “No way, absolutely not.”

Join our official WhatsApp group