The prospect of a purely right-wing coalition has disappeared. It is impossible to govern with just 61 seats," (Though Netanyahu could initially try to form such a small coalition, hoping to add more factions later.) He will need Lapid, who would become a central figure in the government. Indeed, Netanyahu called him an hour after the ballots closed.
In any case, Netanyahu will need one or more of the center parties, making the next government much less dangerous.
WHAT IS the lesson of this election?
The right-religious bloc lost the election, but the "center-left" did not win it, because they could not put forward a credible candidate for prime minister, nor a credible alternative governing party with a solid, comprehensive blueprint for the solution of Israel's basic problems.
To create such a new force, it is absolutely vital to integrate the Arab citizens in the political process as full-fledged partners. By keeping the Arabs out, the Left is castrating itself. A new Jewish-Arab left, a community of outlook, political language and interests, must be created -- and this act of creation must start right now.
The battle for Israel is not lost. Israel's "move to the right" has been blocked and is far from inevitable. We Israelis are not as crazy as we look.
This battle has ended in a draw. The next round can be won. It depends on us.