The path to a coalition is far easier than expected for PM Netanyahu: right+ultra-orthodox=57. A unity government, though appearing unlikely, remains a possibility with (Likud+Zionist Union+Kahlon+smaller parties) = 64+.
Exit polls show Likud and the Zionist Union with 27 seats. Netanyahu still has the easier path to a coalition, though President Rivlin has already called for a national unity government.
Looking at the reports coming out of Israel, JJ Goldberg thinks it's possible no coalition will be formed and Israel will go to new elections in 90 days.
Prime Minister Netanyahu expressed alarm about the high Arab turnout on his Facebook page, writing:
The right-wing government is in danger. Arab voters are coming out in droves to the polls. Left-wing organizations are busing them out. We have no V15, we have Order 8 [code for emergency call up to IDF reserve duty], we have only you. Get out to vote, bring your friends and family, vote Likud in order to close the gap between us and 'Labor.
According to Israeli media reports, Tzipi Livni has agreed to allow Herzog to the be sole Prime Minister in a Zionist Union-led government, despite their agreement to rotate the position.
During a campaign stop on Monday, Prime Minister Netanyahu said he'd authorized construction in Har Homa as "a way of stopping Bethlehem from moving toward Jerusalem." This flies in the face of past comments insisting that his settlement record doesn't substantially affect peace negotiations.
In an interview with NRG (owned by Sheldon Adelson), Prime Minister Netanyahu said that, if he were elected, there would be no Palestinian state. He also warned that a Herzog-Livni government would cooperate with international initiatives to return to Israel's borders.
Though Netanyahu said in a number of interviews Saturday that he would make Moshe Kahlon his finance minister in the next government, Kahlon expressed distrust. "Netanyahu had already promised me in the past [that I would head] the Israel Land Administration and the Finance Ministry," he said, "but did not keep [his promise]."
In an endorsement of Isaac Herzog for prime minister, former PM Ehud Barak states, "I support Isaac Herzog. Israeli civilians as well can trust him on every security matter that before us."
Sources close to President Rivlin said that he will try to facilitate the formation of a national unity government, but will not force it. There are reports that Rivlin has already reached out to Prime Minister Netanyahu and Isaac Herzog, both of whom publicly rule out the formation of a national unity government.
Speaking to a crowd of about 25,000 people at a right wing rally on Sunday, Prime Minister Netanyahu warned that a left-coalition would divide Jerusalem and accused the left of using foreign funding to unseat him.
In an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg, Kulanu candidate Michael Oren said it was time to show greater flexibility on peace and recognize that people can be critical of Israel without being anti-Israel.
In a rare interview, Netanyahu said that Israel’s “security is at great risk because there is a real danger that we could lose this election.” Netanyahu accused his Zionist Union rivals of not supporting his speech to Congress, and supporting concessions to the Palestinians.
Netanyahu posted a campaign video this week featuring his recent address to Congress, contradicting earlier claims that the speech was not motivated by politics.
Senior Likud sources are increasingly acknowledging that Prime Minister Netanyahu may not win the election.
Former President Peres officially endorsed Zionist Union candidate Isaac Herzog for prime minister on Thursday. He "is a level-headed leader, full of responsibility for the Israeli public. I am certain he is suited for the position of prime minister," Peres said.
The Meretz party launched a campaign on Tuesday warning that it could be wiped out in next week’s election.
- “We must not lose Meretz. It depends on you alone,” reads slogan of the campaign, contradicting party chair Zehava Galon’s message over the last few weeks, dismissing fears that Meretz would not pass the electoral threshold.
Shas chief Aryeh Deri said Tuesday he didn’t rule out joining a government led by Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog, but he “wouldn’t sit in a narrow left-wing government.”
He said, “Even though from a social standpoint we have much in common with the left, on diplomatic issues we don’t see eye to eye.”
Deri stressed that “the chances that we’ll sit with [Yesh Atid leader Yair] Lapid in the next government approach zero.”