Benjamin Netanyahu defeats Benny Gantz with striking 60-seat bloc

It is expected that after the third election in one year, this time the prime minister will succeed in forming a government.

 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu succeeded in winning 60 seats for his bloc of right-wing and religious parties in Monday’s election, one less than he needed for a majority in the Knesset, according to exit polls on the three television networks.

 

The exit polls indicated that Netanyahu’s Likud won 36-37 seats. Its allies in Shas, UTJ and Yamina won 9, 7-8 and 6-7 respectively. The polls gave Blue and White 33 seats, its ally Labor-Gesher-Meretz 6-7, the Joint List 14-15 and Yisrael Beytenu 6-8.

The numbers are expected to change overnight. The votes of IDF soldiers, who tend to lean to the Right, have not yet been counted and the Joint List tends to go down a seat when the soldiers’ votes are added. But if the Right does not obtain its 61st seat, it could end up being because the far Right Otzma Yehudit party refused Netanyahu’s repeated requests to quit the race.

 

Netanyahu immediately tweeted “thank you.”

 

The outright victory in Israel’s third election in under a year is expected to enable Netanyahu to quickly form a right-wing coalition after having headed a caretaker government since December 2018.

 

Netanyahu spoke to the heads of the parties in his camp immediately after the exit polls were announced and agreed to form a strong nationalist government as soon as possible.

 

Sources in Likud said he would even try to get a government in place before his criminal trial begins on March 17.

Blue and White MKs expressed disappointment with the results but said they did not expect the party to break up. They dismissed speculation that Blue and White leader Benny Gantz would quit politics.

 

The high turnout in Israel’s unprecedented third election in under a year showed no signs of voter apathy, as Israelis cast ballots in an attempt to end the political stalemate.

 

 

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