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The Guardian view on Israel’s elections: it could be worse | Editorial

Netanyahu is unfit for his office, as some voters are acknowledging, but the problems are bigger than him

Benjamin Netanyahu’s political magic has broken, his biographer declared. The longest-serving prime minister in Israel’s history gambled that a second election in six months would win him a mandate when he couldn’t form a coalition. But the results appear to have shifted in favour of rival Benny Gantz’s Blue and White party.

Voters cannot have gone to the polls on Tuesday with any great excitement. Blue and White hewed even more closely to Likud than it did in April’s contest. Overall there was strikingly little change in voting patterns, as one pollster pointed out: a small portion of the right moved to the secular nationalist Avigdor Lieberman, making him look very much like the kingmaker. The outcome is remarkably close, with Mr Gantz just one seat ahead as final results continued to trickle in, and both men vowed to lead Israel’s next government. Mr Netanyahu is a consummate survivor and his will to fight is sharpened by the knowledge that his freedom may depend upon it: he faces pre-trial hearings for three corruption cases in a matter of weeks. No office, no immunity.

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