From last night just after the polls closed, still in Tel Aviv down at Hangar 1 in the media center for the foreign press:

Well, they are bringing out the most scrumptious desserts! Little cute decadent things with chocolate and nuts and strawberries and they’re all so different and delicious at the same time in little servings and they just keep coming by!

So far, I’d analyze things as a surprisingly delicious night. I have eaten some very excellent food by any standard. I vote stop with all this gourmet food!!!! I can’t take it anymore.

The buzz in the room is deafening and people are speculating about what all this means.

Well, based upon the results, here’s my earliest most serious, most earnest prediction…

…I don’t know what Bibi will do. There. That’s my prognostication and my fanciest word usage all night, I think.

He’ll do something. I’m sure that we will find out soon but we’ll have to wait and see. It’s definite that he’s the PM. See, I could be a pundit, right?

Then again, Bibi’s definitely almost certainly out of a job when Bennet goes around him (Peres will be hypnotized into giving him the mandate from listening to subliminally suggestive Dudu Fisher music) and as crazy as this sounds, Bennet will then form a coalition with Shelly, Yesh Atid, Meretz and Tzipi. When that happens, pigs will grow wings and fly and the chief rabbis will call it a miracle and announce that it’s now kosher to eat pork.

But seriously folks…

Nitzan, I vote to get on the bus and go home. I’m tired already. Why aren’t there any pundits coming to the podium? Oh, they’re doing face time in front of the cameras.

Wow, the room is really clearing out now. I guess the pundits are tired too.

I guess Shas at 11 isn’t good news for the non-kippa wearing crowd. Oh well, I guess the marriage industry workers and business owners in Cyprus and Prague are breathing a sigh of relief.

Professor Yehuda Ben Meir is getting ready to make a learned analysis so take your silly hat off and put your serious kippa back on…really.

He says, “Never a dull moment.” He’s confirming exit poll data. The blocs are passe. They are a thing of the past now. But, we must wait for IDF numbers to come in also. By tomorrow evening, we will have the final results. Soldier votes are young votes so they’re not representative of the entire country.

Lapid is the big surprise. He might get one or two more. Likud might get one or two more. By 00:30 or 01:00, the numbers should be more accurate still but they won’t change a lot.

Here’s Mr. Meir’s impressions so far…

He didn’t think Likud would do this bad nor that Lapid would do so good. Contrary to conventional wisdom, we DID NOT see a shift to the right or even WITHIN the right. On the contrary, the center-left was strengthened but it’s hard to define Yesh Atid. Jewish Home only got 12 and this was good but an under-performance of blown up expectations.

What are we going to see? Bibi is PM because there is no other credible candidate. Lapid doesn’t even see himself as credible; he’s said it in private. Livni is too weak and doesn’t have enough numbers. Shelly isn’t credible by the “street speak.”

But, what coalition will Bibi form? Mr. Meir’s best guess is this: He needs a major party outside of the right bloc (he won’t stay right only). He’s going to bring Yesh Atid in with Jewish Home, probably because Lapid won’t play with Shas and he knows that Bibi needs him. He could also bring Tzipi in too but that’s a little unruly.

I called on Mr. Meir and asked, “From your experience, can a four-party coalition (like Bibi, Bennet, Lapid and Livni cutting out Shas altogether) be stable?” He said, “yes.”

I had a coke with him afterwards and he thinks Yair can play nice with Shas if they’ll compromise on the Tal law. And, he doesn’t necessarily think that the government will be short-lived. It could last much longer.

Likud’s reaction finally…

They think they’ll have more than the 31 seats but things have to settle out. Bibi is the next PM…duh! Spin, spin, spin…blah, blah, blah. We know we lost a lot of blood tonight. We’ll be looking for another donor…Lapid? Maybe, they’ll also get another seat or two.

I also spoke with Steven Millar, the expert pollster. He said to look for 5 things: chaos until after Pesach (no gov’t formed yet), parties are already starting the next campaign, Likud will have an internal party struggle now, Israel Beytenu may implode entirely if Liberman doesn’t come back, the eventual coalition may not have Shas but they’re easy to deal with because they always only want housing and interior.

The bus is leaving in 10 minutes and I’m not missing it. Gotta run…

…okay, I’m back and there’s been almost a day’s worth of speculation about the coalition that Bibi will form. It makes me dizzy to think about it.

What will he do? Is Yesh Atid certainly in? Will Yair work with Shas if Bibi pushes for this?

What about Jewish Home? Is Bennet going to be dealt in? Will Bibi and he kiss and make up?

How will Bibi resist all the center-left, US and EU pressures to give away the farm, bend over backwards for a recalcitrant PA? In the long run, given Bibi’s performance in Pillar, can Fatah even survive more than nominally as Hamas’ influence surges in Judea and Samaria?  No one asked that question last night; I just wanted to throw this in for you to think about.

Did Kadima really cross the threshold? Is Mofaz in or out of luck? What a fall from grace!

Will Shas retain Interior and Housing? No doubt if there in but if not, who will inherit their place?

What about UTJ? Bibi could go this way too but one thing’s for sure…

If he doesn’t sign up Jewish Home, it looks like some kind of peace deal will be at least initiated this year; Bibi will have to cave in if he’s the only one resisting the EU, US, and his other coalition partners who want to do a deal.

Stay tuned. In Israel, everyone has an opinion!

 

 

 

 

 

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