Watching Benjamin Netanyahu win elections has become so customary that it is easy to miss the profound significance of his April 9 victory. When Netanyahu lost to Ehud Barak in 1999—the last time he was booted from office in an election—the Labor Party alliance won 26 seats. In this year’s election, Labor won 6. There has not been a Labor prime minister in 18 years. In the past decade of Netanyahu’s premiership—the longest consecutive time in the Prime Minister’s Office by a country mile—Bibi has done nothing less than remake the Israeli political establishment in his image. And then, on April 9, he defeated that, too.
Previous serious threats from Netanyahu’s right have come from the Jewish Home Party and Israel Beiteinu. Jewish Home was formerly led by Naftali Bennett, who was Bibi’s chief of staff from 2006 to 2008, and Ayelet Shaked, who was Netanyahu’s office director during that same time and who has been mentioned repeatedly as the politician most likely to replace Netanyahu. This year, Bennett and Shaked left Jewish Home to form another party, New Right—and it failed to break the vote threshold necessary to join the Knesset. They’re out.