|Benjamin Netanyahu and the Likud party claim victory in the 2015 election.|
Last night, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Likud party won Tuesday’s parliamentary elections, scoring 30 seats in the Knesset, compared to the Zionist Union led by Isaac Herzog, which gained 24 seats, and the Joint List (an Arab Israeli coalition of parties) which gained 14 seats. Many were not expecting the Likud party to win again and have described the right-wing victory as an upset. This win solidifies Netanyahu’s fourth term as prime minister; he will soon make history as the longest-serving prime minister of Israel since David Ben-Gurion.
Earlier this week, while the Likud party was trailing in the polls, Netanyahu made the bold statement that “A Palestinian state would not be established on his watch if re-elected,” (Source) in order to appeal to and bolster the right-wing vote. The Arab turnout at the polls was higher than expected, leading Netanyahu to declare that the Arab population benefits from “distorting the true will of Israeli citizens toward the left and giving excessive power to the extreme Arab list… the rule of the right is in danger.” According to the Jerusalem Post, “People who have not voted in years—or at least not for Likud—felt the need to save Israel from the Left, Iran and from a hostile international community.” By making heavily politicized statements late in the campaign, the right-wing Likud party was once again able to solidify its majority power in the Knesset.
Although the Joint List, an Arab Israeli coalition, was able to gain a small number of seats in the Knesset, unsurprisingly, the Palestinian response toward Netanyahu’s victory has been less than thrilled. Sabri Saidam, advisor to Mahmoud Abbas, stated that Netanyahu’s rejection of any establishment of a Palestinian state proves that “Israel has chosen apartheid rather than peace, thus bringing an end to the peace camp in Palestine.” A senior Fatah official was recorded as stating, “A vote for Netanyahu and the right-wing parties is a vote against peace and for more war and bloodshed.”
Likewise, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat stated the results show “the success of a campaign platform based on settlements, racism, apartheid, and the denial of the fundamental human rights of the Palestinian people.” (Source).
The results of the election and Netanyahu’s continued denial of rights of sovereignty for the Palestinian people strengthen Palestinian leaders’ case against Israel in the International Criminal Court.