Gedolei Yisroel voting. Left: HaRav Gershon Edelstein; Right: HaRav Chaim Kanievsky
A lot will remain in the air for a few weeks until an actual government is formed, but the big news is that the so-called Right Block got more Knesset seats than the Left Block, allowing Netanyahu to form a government. All the right wing parties together got 65 seats, so what is left is only 55. That of course includes the Arab members of Knesset who are not looked upon as government partners.
Elections are serious business for the religious community in Israel. So many things are dependent on the government. Gedolei Yisroel take the trouble to travel all over the country to participate in election rallies.
The final results, that is final as of Thursday night, show: Likud - 36 and the new Blue-White - 35. The chareidi parties did better than most expected, as Shas got 8 and UTJ got 7. The once-mighty Labor party got only 6, and they were tied in size with one of the Arab parties, Chadash-Ta'al. The United Parties of the Right, as the successor to the national-religious party is called, got 5, as did the Yisrael Beiteinu party of Lieberman. Meretz, the other Arab List, and Kulanu of Kahalon got 4 each. It is interesting that several parties did not make the minimum including the New Right, Identity and Gesher. The New Right waa a breakaway party founded by Naftali Bennet and Ayelet Shaked to try to have a broader appeal and not be so closely tied to religious issues. Their gamble failed badly. All the votes for the parties that did not reach the minimum were lost.
One of the first orders of business for the new government, whenever it is finally formed, will be to pass a law limiting the power of the High Court of Justice. For the first time in the history of the State, the Court ruled that someone was unfit to run for Knesset. They ruled out Dr Michael Ben Ari, who does have extreme views. Nonetheless, they did not rule out several Arab candidates who also have extreme views. This action incensed many people, and there should not be any trouble passing a law limiting the High Court. It would have been passed earlier, but Kahlon refused to allow it. In this campaign he said that he would no longer oppose it. The chareidim have long desired such a law, but have not pushed for it because they did not want it to become identified as a chareidi issue. Now it is clear to everyone that it is not just a chareidi issue.
The chareid parties did very well. The chareidi parties are now senior partners, but it is not a sure thing that they will get the respect that they deserve. UTJ believes that it is only a few votes from getting its eighth MK. The New Right of Bennet and Shaked is also fairly close to passing the minimum.
There are still a lot of contentious issues. The American peace plan can cause trouble, whatever it may be.