Israel votes: Palestinian-Israeli party now a potential kingmaker

A small Palestinian-Israeli party has unexpectedly won crucial seats in Israel’s election, potentially putting it in a position to choose Israel’s next prime minister.

The United Arab List (UAL), also known by the Hebrew name Ra’am, appears to have clinched just five seats in the 120-member Knesset, but it could decide whether Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, remains in office.

It is an odd predicament for Netanyahu, who rose to power by rejecting compromise with the Palestinians and has used racist rhetoric in past campaigns to cast the country’s Arab minority as a fifth column of “terrorist” sympathisers.

With about 90 percent of votes counted on Wednesday, Netanyahu, 71, and his natural allies, and the bloc opposing him, each lack a 61-seat majority in the Knesset.

Unless another party decides to switch sides, each would need the support of Mansour Abbas, leader of the UAL, to form a government and avoid yet another round of elections.


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