Reports out of Israel say that mid-afternoon voter turnout in the national elections is running slightly behind the level seen at this time in the 2013 election cycle in which Benjamin Netanyahu cruised to an easy win as the country’s prime minister.
This time around, though, Netanyahu finds himself locked in a hotly contested race for control of the Israeli parliament, or Knesset. While the latest polling has put the main challenger to Netanyahu’s Likud party slightly ahead, analysts say the contest is way too close to call in favor of leading rival Isaac Herzog’s Zionist Union.
The Times of Israel reminds us that, with the way Israeli elections work, it will very likely be a few weeks from now before it’s known whether Bibi Netanyahu will be elected to an unprecedented fourth term as prime minister.
Unlike US elections, in which a clear candidate (usually) emerges victorious, Tuesday is just one phase of a drawn-out process in Israel. After the votes come in, parties will unite behind their preferred prime minister no matter who came in first. Israel’s president will then select the party leader with the largest supporting bloc to form a government.
In a last-minute effort to rally support, Netanyahu on Monday announced that, if re-elected, a Palestinian state would not be established while he was prime minister. It was a move that put him further at odds with the Obama administration.
“I think that anyone who moves to establish a Palestinian state today, and evacuate areas, is giving radical Islam an area from which to attack the State of Israel,” Netanyahu said.
And on election day, Netanyahu raised another red flag by claiming that high turnout among Arab-Israeli voters was a major threat to his continued leadership. As a post on Yahoo! News notes:
“Netanyahu claimed high Arab voter turnout was putting his right wing Likud Party’s rule ‘in danger,’ according to a posting on his Facebook page. ‘Arab voters are going to the polls in droves. Left wing organizations are bringing them in buses,’ he said.”
As Western Journalism has reported, Netanyahu supporters have charged — and the U.S. Congress is now investigating the claims — that the Obama administration as well as Obama campaign operatives have been working on the ground in Israel to encourage anti-Netanyahu voters to mobilize and vote for Bibi’s opponents.
h/t: The Times of Israel
BCN editor’s note: This article first appeared at Western Journalism.