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Netanyahu’s plan for winning an outright majority in the Knesset

If he wants his right-wing ultra-Orthodox bloc to win 61 seats so he can form an immunity coalition, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will need Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked to run as part of the New Right list and pass the electoral threshold.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looks on as he chairs the weekly cabinet meeting at his Jerusalem office December 15, 2019. Gali Tibbon/Pool via REUTERS - RC2MVD9F1YP9
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About a month ago, with Blue and White leader Benny Gantz’s deadline to form a new government about to run out, it seemed as if a unity government was closer than ever. Representatives of Benny Gantz and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had almost completed an agreement, which included Netanyahu citing incapacity and resigning within a few months, mechanisms to make decisions with equal representation of both parties, the division of Cabinet portfolios (with defense and foreign affairs going to Blue and White) and various other agreements.

Though it wasn’t finalized, the overall impression was that a solution could be found for the issues where they disagreed. Then there was a turning point, coming mainly from Netanyahu. Suddenly, he set new conditions on a unity government and withdrew from prior agreements. According to one person involved in the negotiations, the Likud team was left feeling confused. Then, just a few days later, Netanyahu showed senior members of the Likud a series of new internal polls showing that if a third election was held, the right-wing bloc had a good chance of winning a majority of 61 seats, even without Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beitenu party.

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