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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.

A sticker and a banner of election campaign, depicting former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other politicians, are seen in Tel Aviv.

Reuters

Israel’s fifth election in under four years: Will anything change?

We’ve seen this movie before: An ill-suited coalition government collapses, electioneering kicks off, and Israelis drag their feet to the polls.

On Tuesday, Israelis vote to elect a new government for the fifth time since April 2019. Former longtime Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu is looking to make a comeback nearly 18 months after he was relegated to opposition status. Accustomed to the trappings of PM life, Bibi has made no secret of the fact that he despises the indignity of playing second fiddle and desperately wants his old gig back.

As Israel votes yet again, what’s changed, what’s stayed the same, and what are the likely outcome(s) of round five?

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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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Ari Winkleman

Déjà vu in Israel: Another government crumbles

Political tumult is again the order of the day in Israel, where the fifth election cycle in three years is about to kick off. Crippled by dysfunction and tribalism, Israel has joined the ranks of countries like Italy and Greece, where general elections have been known to occur with infuriating frequency.

What sparked the latest government collapse, and how might Israel overcome this period of chronic stalemate?

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Voting in Australia's federal election.

Annie Gugliotta.

What We’re Watching: Aussies vote, Turkey threatens Nordic states, elections loom in Israel

What will voters decide Down Under?

Aussie voters head to the polls on Saturday to decide whether to keep Prime Minister Scott Morrison (ScoMo) of the right-leaning Liberal-National Coalition in power, or to pass the baton to the Labor Party’s Anthony Albanese. Speak to any Aussie, and they’ll tell you that neither bespeckled, middle-aged candidate inspires much excitement. Still, someone has to win! After nearly two years under some of the tightest COVID lockdown restrictions in the world, Aussies appear ready for change: Albanese, a left-leaning centrist, is leading in national polls by 2%. That’s encouraging for ScoMo, who just two weeks ago was trailing by 8 percentage points. The election cycle has been dominated by the cost-of-living crisis currently plaguing many advanced economies. Though unemployment in Australia has hit record lows, inflation is outpacing wage growth. Albanese, a long-time politician with little cabinet experience, has made a series of gaffes recently about the economy that likely contributed to the narrowing margin. According to ABC, some 5-8% of Aussie voters are still undecided. That could be the difference between whether Labor comes out on top after nearly a decade in opposition government. As Signal’s resident Aussie (Gabrielle), I am off to vote!

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What We're Watching: Israel's strange bedfellows, Mali's isolation, Open Skies closed

Israel's new, weird government: Israel's political class never misses an opportunity for dramatic effect. And that's exactly what happened Wednesday when Yair Lapid of the centrist Yesh Atid party informed Israel's president that he had successfully cobbled together a coalition government just minutes before a procedural deadline at midnight. It's an historic outcome, ending the political reign of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after 15 years in power. The new coalition government will be rotational: Naftali Bennett, head of the rightwing Yamina party, will serve as PM until 2023, at which point he will switch roles with Lapid, who will serve as foreign minister until then. The government will be one of the most ideologically and religiously-diverse in Israel's history, including Jewish nationalist parties, right wing politicians who defected from Bibi's camp, left-wing parties, as well as Raam, an Islamist Arab party. Plenty of challenges await the new government, and Bibi is surely going to be a thorn in its side as head of the opposition in the Knesset. But after endless election cycles, many Israelis are rejoicing that they finally have a (fractious) new government.

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Netanyahu On The Verge of Losing Power In Israel | US Spying On EU? | World In :60 | GZERO Media

Netanyahu on the verge of losing power in Israel; US spying on EU?

Ian Bremmer shares his perspective on global politics this week:

Is Netanyahu's time as Israel's prime minister about to end?

It does look that way. Though of course, like with everything in Israel politics it's right down to the wire. Can they put this unity government, where the only thing they're unified on is everyone wants to get rid of Netanyahu, together by midnight Israeli local time. If they can it's the end of Netanyahu's term, 12 years tenure in office. Though the government's not going to last for long. They agree on absolutely nothing else. There's no policy that'll happen, maybe they get a budget together. That's about it. But my God, yes, indeed. It does look like Netanyahu's probably going to be out.

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Israel's historic (and fractious) post-Bibi government

After four elections in two years, Israel is finally on the brink of forming a new government. But for the first time in 12 years it won't be headed by someone named Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu.

The new power-sharing coalition is likely to be one of the most ideologically-diverse in the country's history. How, after years of dysfunction and deadlock, did we get here, and how might this new government shape Israeli politics and policymaking?

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