Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu again fell short of a parliamentary majority, final election results showed on Thursday according to AP. The results extended the nation’s year-old political deadlock, dashing the leader’s hopes of a decisive victory as he prepares to face trial over corruption allegations.
Netanyahu had claimed “a giant victory” in elections on Tuesday, boasting that his Likud party had defied “all expectations” in Israel’s third election in less than a year, AFP reported. Previous elections in April and September also resulted in deadlock.
Likud emerged as the single party, with 36 seats, ahead of the rival Blue and White Party that won 33 seats. With his smaller allies, Netanyahu managed to win just 58 seats, short of the 61-seat majority.
Israel could go to a fourth straight election if neither Netanyahu or his rival Benny Gantz, the leader of the Blue and White Party, can form a government. A power-sharing unity government between their parties could end the deadlock but Gantz has refused be part of the government led by Netanyahu, while the prime minister is on trial.
Netanyahu, who has been Israel’s prime minister since 2009 and is now seeking his fourth consecutive term, is accused of accepting expensive gifts from influential friends and offering favors to media moguls in exchange for positive coverage. He is scheduled to go on trial on March 17.
According to Israeli law, the prime minister does not need to resign if charged with a crime. The country’s Supreme Court is expected to soon examine whether an indicted politician should be permitted to form a new government.