This was supposed to be the election that Benjamin Netanyahu was going to lose – three criminal investigations; a decision of intent to indict him for bribery, fraud and breach of trust; and three former IDF chiefs of staff who joined together with the sole purpose of taking him down.
But even all of that could not defeat Netanyahu. He refused to be beaten.
There were those in Israel who referred to him on Wednesday as a magician. Considering the challenges he overcame and the final preelection polls last Friday, he might well deserve the title. While some of those polls showed Likud behind Blue and White by one or two seats, others showed the gap at four. But Netanyahu managed to pull ahead, and in the final days before the vote his Likud party climbed five or six seats.
Many political analysts dismissed his final “gevalt, I am going to lose” campaign as Netanyahu just crying wolf, like he did on the eve of the last election in 2015. They claimed it wouldn’t work. But it did – and better than he could have imagined. Netanyahu managed to tie with Blue and White by sucking just enough votes from the satellite right-wing parties, but to let them keep enough so they would get into the Knesset and he could then form a coalition.
The added prize was the news that his three nemeses – Naftali Bennett, Ayelet Shaked and Moshe Feiglin – would not make it into the Knesset. Not only did he manage to siphon votes, he did it mostly from the two parties he couldn’t stand.
That is the positive outcome of the election.