Israeli exit polls show Netanyahu leads Gantz

A man waves a Likud party flag while another youth waves an Israeli flag, at the Likud's electoral headquarters in the coastal city of Tel Aviv on March 2, 2020, after polls officially closed. (AFP)

Victory in a cliffhanger Israeli election on Monday seemed to be within Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s grasp, with exit polls showing him just one seat short of a governing right-wing bloc in parliament.

Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving leader, responded to the projections by tweeting “Thank you” and a heart emoji. He fought Israel’s third election in less than a year under the cloud of corruption charges, which he denies.

The four-term prime minister, who heads the right-wing Likud party, had failed to secure a governing majority in the legislature in elections held in April and September.

Opinion polls in the final days of campaigning had predicted further deadlock. But polls broadcast by Israel’s three main television channels after voting ended showed Likud pulling ahead of the centrist Blue and White party led by former general Benny Gantz.

Read more: Israel’s Gantz rules out joining govt with PM facing serious indictment

All three exit polls gave Likud and like-minded parties 60 of parliament’s 120-seats, just one short of a majority. During the campaign, right-wing and religious parties had pledged to join a Likud-led coalition government.

Actual results, which have differed in the past from exit polls, will be released on Tuesday.

The election comes in the wake of US President Donald Trump's so-called peace plan, embraced by most Israeli leaders but rejected by Palestinians and most of the Arab world.

Read more:

Israeli PM Netanyahu’s trial to start march 17

Israel’s attorney general decides to indict Netanyahu on corruption charges

A brief history of previous Palestine peace deals – and their failure

SHOW MORE
Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 14:06 - GMT 11:06
Top