United Torah Judaism lawmaker Uri Maklev told Ynet that Netanyahu “did things that should not be done” during the campaign and “walked all over us.” The party’s leader, Moshe Gafni, said ahead of the elections that the faction “will weigh” its options if Netanyahu did not secure a majority coalition after the vote.
Ynet said anger was brewing in Shas as well, though the party was being more careful about publicly airing criticism of the premier.
Throughout three inconclusive elections over the past two years, Netanyahu has relied on the loyalty of the ultra-Orthodox parties, who had refused to consider a coalition not led by him.
Netanyahu had aggressively lobbied the religious and ultra-Orthodox community to vote for Religious Zionism and its leader Smotrich, to ensure it passed the electoral threshold of 3.25% of votes needed to enter the Knesset. This resulted in Charedi votes going to Religious Zionism as well.
Ben Gvir also appears to have stirred up trouble for Netanyahu abroad, with officials from Gulf states reportedly warning Israeli diplomats that far-right lawmakers in the Knesset could “hurt normalization,” according to a Wednesday report. Ben Gvir supports policies that are widely viewed as discriminatory against Arabs.
Data released on Wednesday night showed the vote breaking along familiar geographic lines, with Likud leading in southern cities, Yesh Atid ahead in Tel Aviv and ultra-Orthodox parties receiving strong support in Jerusalem.