The surprise rise of the centre-left is threatening to derail the current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Commentators see it as a vote against right-wing radicalisation and his failure to address social strife. Some are shocked by the result as polls before the election had predicted a shift to the right. One Jerusalem resident expressed her disappointment that the ultra-nationalist Habayit Hayehudi (Jewish Home), which rejects the notion of an independent Palestinian state, won only 11 seats.
“I am a bit surprised, I did not expect Yair Lapid to get so many votes. I am a bit surprised and how do you say, a bit disappointed because I thought Bennett will get more voices.”
Coalition talks are just beginning, with Netanyahu offering to work with Yasher Atid. However, its leader Yair Lapid vowed to join a government only if it is committed to peace talks. Some are looking forward to a different future for Israeli politics:
“It’s an opportunity now for the government to eliminate the influence, the over influence, of the religious parties. The prime minister was shown that he did now have such a strong mandate, but still the people want him as prime minister,” explains Jerusalem resident Shimon Pomerantz.
Coalition talks look set to be tough and the deadline is set at 28 days, but can be extended by a further 14. It may just go into extra time.