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Likud Party leader Benjamin Netanyahu walks to address his supporters at his party headquarters during Israel's general election in Jerusalem.

Reuters

Netanyahu clinches it

With around 99% of the vote counted, Israel’s former longtime leader Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu is in prime position to reclaim the prime ministership, with his Likud Party having secured 32 parliamentary seats out of 120, the most of any party. Bibi is now on track to form a coalition of 64 seats made up of extremist ultra-nationalist, anti-Arab, and anti-LGBTQ parties, as well as ultra-Orthodox groups. Many post-mortems will be written in the weeks ahead, but one of the biggest stories is the failure of Meretz, a flagship left-wing party, to reach the 3.25% threshold needed to even make it into the Knesset, marking the first time that Meretz won’t sit in parliament since its founding in 1992. Israel’s left-wing establishment is pointing the finger at Labor Party leader Merav Michaeli, who in the run-up to Israel’s fifth election in under four years, refused to merge with Meretz to boost the left’s electoral prospects, and the anti-Bibi bloc more broadly. Netanyahu will now do his usual shtick to try to cobble together a coalition. Though he has the numbers on paper, this won’t be a cakewalk: Many of Bibi’s “natural partners” will make their support contingent on certain demands, like portfolio leadership positions and cash for their communities. Bibi will have to make everyone happy to get over the finish line, and it won’t be easy.

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro gives a press statement in Brasilia.

Reuters

What We’re Watching: Bolsonaro's broken silence, Iranian attack plans, Bibi’s return, Colombia & Venezuela’s lunch date

Bolsonaro lets his friend say the hard part

In a prepared and combative statement lasting less than two minutes, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Tuesday did not concede the election he lost on Sunday. He also failed to congratulate — or even mention — his opponent, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Instead, he welcomed ongoing nationwide protests by pro-Bolsonaro truckers, saying they’re the result of a “feeling of indignation and injustice about how the elections were conducted.” He cast himself as a person who plays by the constitutional rules and said he was proud to have stood for freedom of markets, religion, and expression. “The right has truly risen in Brazil,” he said. After Bolsonaro walked off without taking questions, one of his closest allies stepped up to the podium to say Bolsonaro had in fact authorized him to begin the presidential transition. As that legal and logistical process gets underway, we are watching closely to see how far Bolsonaro pushes the popular protests to try to gain political leverage. Bolsonaro lost to former President Lula by the narrowest electoral margin in Brazil’s modern history. Buckle up.

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A woman looks out of a window displaying a campaign banner of Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Ramla, Israel.

Reuters

What We’re Watching: Elections loom in Israel & Northern Ireland, Elon Musk rules Twitterverse

Round 5 in Israel: Can Bibi make a comeback?

Israelis are doing the voting thing all over again on Nov. 1 in the country’s fifth general election since 2019. To recap, the current government crumbled in June, a year after PM Yair Lapid successfully brought together an ideologically diverse coalition to oust former longtime leader Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu. Still, current polls suggest that Israel’s melting pot – which includes Jews (secular to ultra-Orthodox), Muslims, Christians, and Druze – remains as divided as ever. Importantly, Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud Party is slated to win the most seats (as it did in the previous four elections) but (for now) is just shy of mustering enough support to cross the 61-seat threshold needed to form a government. One big change in this cycle is the momentum of three far-right parties that Bibi has courted to serve in his government. Together, the three could win up to 14 seats, suggesting that their extremist anti-Arab, anti-LGBTQ brand could become a more potent force within Israeli politics. Meanwhile, Lapid on Thursday signed a historic maritime deal with Lebanon, but Bibi says he might ditch it if he takes over, though many say this is just pre-election posturing.

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Israeli PM Naftali Bennett speaks next to Foreign Minister Yair Lapid at the Knesset in Jerusalem.

REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

What We're Watching: Bennett throws in the towel in Israel, Petro wins in Colombia, Macron loses majority in France

Israel faces fifth election in three years

Israelis are headed to the polls, again, for the fifth time in just over three years. After almost two months of being on the brink of collapse following a number of high-profile defections that made it lose its parliamentary majority, the fragile eight-party coalition government led by PM Naftali Bennett is set to disband. In the coming days, Bennett and his main coalition partner, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, intend to dissolve the Knesset (parliament) and call a fresh election in October or November. Lapid will serve as caretaker PM once Bennett steps down, but Bennett will retain the Iran portfolio as part of the power-sharing agreement. Former PM Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu, who now heads the opposition, celebrated the demise of an unwieldy government whose members could pretty much only agree that they didn't want him as prime minister. Bibi, for his part, is (surprise!) gunning for a return to power despite being on trial for corruption. Will his rightwing Likud Party win enough seats and allies to cobble together a majority to form a government, or will Israel's political deadlock continue with no end in sight?

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Is this the beginning of the end for Israel's Netanyahu?

"There won't be tricks and there won't be shticks," Israel's forever-Prime Minister Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu said back in March as he tried to convince the up-and-coming centrist opposition party, Blue and White, to join his coalition government.

But since then, the wily prime minister has, in fact, unveiled such a bewildering array of tricks and shticks of his own that he caused the government to collapse, pitching the country into its fourth election in just two years.

Why did the government collapse? The immediate cause was the government's failure to pass a national budget, which by law triggers a new election.

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