Poll results give Netanyahu 31 seats centrist Lapid 19

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The results of Israel’s election keep premier Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud-Beitenu list the largest in parliament with 31 seats ahead of Yair Lapid’s centrist Yesh Atid at 19, an official said on Thursday.

The central election committee spokesman said in a statement that the third largest party was Shelly Yachimovich's Labour with 15 seats, with the far-right Jewish Home winning 12 mandates in the 120-seat Knesset.

Initial results from Tuesday’s vote had the Jewish Home under the leadership of Naftali Bennett at 11 seats.

But the results published on Thursday night, which include soldiers’ votes, pushed his party up to 12 while dropping the United Arab List from five to four.

The figures given by the central election committee were final, but the results will be official only next week after they are presented to President Shimon Peres.

“We have to wait until Wednesday ... to have the formal results and only then I as the president will call on one of the members, I shall consult with the parties and listen to their advice, and then I shall call one of the parties to form a government,” Peres said.

“Until then I must keep quiet and behave myself which is very difficult,” the seasoned political said from Davos in Switzerland, where he was at the World Economic Forum.

Netanyahu, in consultations with potential coalition partners, met with Lapid at length on Thursday and also spoke with Bennett and Zehava Galon, leader of the leftwing party Meretz that won 6 seats.

The contact with Galon was part of “a bid to create a government as broad as possible,” the premier’s spokeswoman said in a statement.