With 95.6% of votes counted, still no clear victor in Israel elections
With more than 95.6% of the vote counted in Tuesday's elections in Israel, there was still no clear winner Thursday morning, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Opposition Leader Yair Lapid both lacked the handful of Knesset seats needed to form a right-wing or centrist coalition government respectively.
The head of small Islamist Ra'am party, Mansour Abbas, has emerged as an unlikely kingmaker as both political blocs would need him to form a government. Some members of the right-wing Likud have expressed opposition to relying on an Arab party to remain in power.
The current deadlock is leaving the country facing the prospect of unprecedented fifth consecutive election since April 2019.
According to results released on Thursday morning, Netanyahu's Likud has 30 seats, Lapid's Yesh Atid 17, Shas 9, Blue & White 8, United Torah Judaism 7, Labor 7, Yamina 7, Yisrael Beiteinu 7, Religious Zionism 6, The Joint List 6, New Hope 6, Meretz 6 and Ra'am with 4.
Based on the data showing the distribution of votes around the country, Likud has the overall lead in local authorities, with a large concentration of votes in southern and northern cities, including in Haifa that last election cycle voted overwhelmingly for Blue & White.
Ra'am on Wednesday looked as though it would get at least five Knesset seats, but it has lost one seat once the so-called double envelope ballots cast by soldiers, hospital patients, prisoners, people in quarantine and officials serving abroad started to trickle in.
he latest tally does not include the double envelopes, which include the votes of coronavirus patients, soldiers, Israelis abroad and care home residents. Central Election Committee began counting these vote late Wednesday, with the results expected sometime Friday.