As 96% of the votes have been counted, it appears that Likud is going to take the win with 37 seats compared to Blue and White’s 36. However as this dramatic election has shown, anything could change as the final percentage is counted.

As more and more exit polls began to be published Prime Minister declared victory at a Likud rally at around 2:00 AM.

Earlier polls that showed Blue and White as leading by as many as four seats and party chairman Benny Gantz also held a victory rally.

Netanyahu claimed victory, because his Right-Center bloc won handily over Gantz’s Center-Left bloc in polls broadcast on Channel 13 and KAN, 66 to 54 and 64 to 56, respectively. In Channel 12’s poll, the blocs were even at 60 seats.

“The right-wing bloc led by Likud clearly won,” Netanyahu said. “I thank Israeli citizens for their trust. I will begin forming a right-wing government with our natural partners already tonight.”

On the other hand, Gantz announced that he won the race, because in the Channel 12 poll, Blue and White received 37 seats and Likud 33. In the KAN poll, the victory margin was 37 to 36. The Channel 13 poll found the two parties even at 36.

“We won!” Gantz and his number two Yair Lapid said in a joint statement. “The Israeli public has had their say! Thank you to the thousands of activists and over a million voters. These elections have a clear winner and a clear loser. Netanyahu promised 40 seats and lost. The president can see the picture and should call on the winner to form the next government. There is no other option!”

President Reuven Rivlin will meet with the heads of the parties that cross the threshold next week. Shas, United Torah Judaism, Kulanu and the Union of Right-Wing Parties announced late Tuesday that they would recommend Netanyahu to form the government.

Kahlon and Liberman said they would only decide when the final results are in.

Labor and Meretz will recommend Gantz.

The surprise of the election was that former Likud MK Moshe Feiglin’s Zehut Party did not cross the 3.25% threshold, according to the exit polls. But party officials said their supporters did not cooperate with the exit polls and the results in the ballot box would be very different.

UTJ’s Moshe Gafni said he spoke to Netanyahu minutes after the exit polls were released, and that he would recommend him to be tasked with forming the next government when he meets in the coming days with President Reuven Rivlin.

Several Likud ministers and top candidates were on hand at the party’s election event to respond to the polls and tried to take a similarly optimistic approach to the results.


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