(April 10, 2019 / JNS) Leader of the Blue and White Party Benny Gantz said on Wednesday morning that despite the results that appeared to give Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a fifth term in office and a large lead to the right-wing bloc, nothing was final yet.
Gantz told Blue and White activists that they should be proud of their achievements, which he called “unprecedented.”
“Good morning, friends. Yes, good morning,” he wrote in a message on Wednesday.
“The reports aren’t telling the final story. Although it looks like gray skies are on the way, two things are missing—they don’t include electoral movement, and it could be that we’ll make some kind of political move. They certainly can’t obscure the sunshine of hope we gave to the people of Israel and Israeli society.
“Our voters asked for hope and we gave it to them. They wanted a different path, and we laid it out. … Therefore, we will not withdraw from our public obligation to represent over a million citizens who wanted something different from us. We have a historic achievement under our belts. We have something to be proud of, and we will be,” Gantz’s message read.
Meanwhile, New Right co-founder Naftali Bennett, whose party initial results indicated would not make it past the minimum electoral threshold, expressed hope on Wednesday that the soldiers’ votes would change the picture and manage to give his party the 3.25 percent it needed to sit in the Knesset.
In a press conference outside his home, Bennett said, “All my life, I’ve given all I could for the sake of this good people. I was always a soldier of the state. As a combat soldiers in the Sayeret Matkal, as a high-tech entrepreneur, as education minister and as a cabinet member during ‘Operation Protective Edge.’ Now the soldiers will decide where I will continue to fight on their behalf. What is certain is that I will never stop giving everything [I have] to the State of Israel.”
With some 95 percent of votes counted, it appeared that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Gantz had each won 35 votes, but that the right-wing bloc was ahead by a large margin.
The ultra-Orthodox parties Shas and United Torah Judaism each won eight seats. Yisrael Beytenu under former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman won five seats, and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu Party won four seats. The Union of Right-Wing Parties (Habayit Hayehudi-National Union-Otzma Yehudit) won five seats.
As of Wednesday morning, the Zehut Party under far-right leader Moshe Feiglin, which made headlines in the campaign due in part to his espousal of cannabis legalization, failed to make it into the Knesset at all.
On the left, the Labor Party made the worst showing in its history, winning a scanty six seats, compared to the 2013 election—the last time it ran as an independent party—when it won 15. In 2015, Labor ran with Hatnua on the joint Zionist Union list, which won 24 seats but stayed in the opposition in the 20th Knesset.
Meretz won four seats.
The Hadash-Ta’al Arab Party won five seats, and the Balad-Ra’am list won four, which means the Arab parties will have significantly less representation in the 21st Knesset than they did in the 20th Knesset, when they united as the Joint Arab List.