“I remember our first victory in 1996 was historic, but this time is even sweeter because it is a victory against all odds,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu March 2 after the release of the television exit polls. It was no coincidence that Netanyahu decided to begin his election night speech by comparing what had just happened to his 1996 victory after Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination. By doing this, he encompassed the entire story of the 2020 election. While Netanyahu failed to win 61 seats and a decisive victory, he could take credit for an enormous achievement. He succeeded in restoring the Likud’s status as the largest party in the Knesset, and he strengthened his right-wing, ultra-Orthodox bloc, which emerged from the election with three more seats than it won in September 2019.
It is still too early to know what the next few days will bring and whether a fourth round of elections is a real option. What is certain, however, is that the alliance between the victims of discrimination, which brought a 46-year-old Netanyahu to power in May 1996, is the same alliance, with a few tweaks, which is helping him keep the Prime Minister’s Office for the foreseeable future, even if it is just days before the start of his trial for bribery, fraud and the violation of trust, scheduled for March 17.