Lapid may be defeated in Israel’s polls, but he’s the ‘undisputed’ opposition leader

© Ariel Schalit, AP

Israel’s former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made a comeback following his Likud party’s strong showing in Tuesday’s elections. But the party of leftist caretaker Prime Minister Yair Lapid has also made electoral gains, enabling the journalist-turned-politician to establish himself as a powerful opposition leader, according to a Middle East expert.

Veteran Israeli hawk Benjamin Netanyahu has made yet another comeback following his strong showing in Tuesday’s general election, the country’s fifth in four years.

As the final ballot counts rolled in on Thursday, caretaker Prime Minister Yair Lapid conceded the election, congratulating Netanyahu and instructing his staff to prepare for an orderly transfer of power.

“The state of Israel comes before any political consideration," Lapid said. "I wish Netanyahu success, for the sake of the people of Israel and the state of Israel.”

The surging power of Israel's right wing came at the expense of its left flank. As vote counting neared an end, the anti-occupation Meretz appeared headed for political exile for the first time since it was founded in the 1990s.

Meretz's leader, Zehava Galon, released a video late Thursday conceding the party would not be in the next parliament. “This is a disaster for Meretz, a disaster for the country and yes, a disaster for me," she said.

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