Netanyahu, main challenger Gantz, both claim Israeli election victory

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his main challenger Benny Gantz claimed victory in Israel’s election however exit polls and early outcomes indicated on Wednesday the veteran right-wing chief was on track for a document fifth time period.

Updated exit polls on two of Israel’s three main TV channels a number of hours after voting ended on Tuesday confirmed Netanyahu’s Likud successful extra parliamentary seats than Gantz’s centrist Blue and White Party. A 3rd survey put Blue and White a seat forward of Likud.

Though neither get together captured a ruling majority within the 120-member Knesset, in keeping with the polls, the surveys put Netanyahu in a stronger place to kind a coalition authorities with right-wing factions, key to an final victory.

Netanyahu’s prospects of turning into Israel’s longest-serving prime minister appeared to enhance because the evening went on. Partial outcomes with 40 p.c of votes counted gave Likud 40 seats, 10 greater than within the earlier election in 2015, and Blue and White 35, in keeping with Kan public tv and the Ynet information website.

“It is a night of colossal victory,” the 69-year-old Netanyahu informed cheering supporters in a late-night speech at Likud headquarters, whereas cautioning “long night and possibly day” lay forward awaiting official outcomes.

Fireworks flared behind him as his spouse Sara applauded and kissed him. “He’s a magician,” the group chanted.

Netanyahu stated he had already begun talks with potential coalition allies.

Netanyahu, in energy consecutively since 2009, has been combating for his political survival. The intently contested race was broadly seen in Israel as a referendum on his character and document within the face of corruption allegations.

He faces potential indictment in three graft circumstances, and has denied wrongdoing in all three.

Rival Gantz, 59, earlier additionally claimed victory, citing preliminary exit polls that confirmed his get together had received extra seats than Likud.

“We are the victors,” stated Gantz, a former navy chief combating his first election. “We want to thank Benjamin Netanyahu for his service to the nation.”

Political analysts cautioned it was too early to make certain of the result, with many hours to go earlier than a remaining tally is in. Plus, Israeli exit polls have been incorrect previously.

Ofer Zalzberg, senior analyst with the International Crisis Group, stated Likud and Blue and White must be taught the destiny of smaller events to know whether or not they had garnered sufficient help for a coalition.

“Netanyahu is more likely to establish another right-wing government, but we will have to wait and see,” he stated.

A mix image exhibits Benny Gantz (left), chief of Blue and White get together voting at a polling station in Rosh Ha’ayin and Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voting at a polling station in Jerusalem throughout Israel’s parliamentary election April 9, 2019. REUTERS/Nir Elias, Ariel Schalit/Pool by way of REUTERS


During the marketing campaign, the rival events accused one another of corruption, fostering bigotry and being gentle on safety.

Netanyahu highlighted his shut relationship with U.S. President Donald Trump, who delighted Israelis and angered Palestinians by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2017 and transferring the American Embassy to the holy metropolis final May.

Two weeks earlier than the election, Trump signed a proclamation, with Netanyahu at his aspect on the White House, recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights captured from Syria within the 1967 Middle East conflict.

In a uncommon flip through the race towards the Israeli-Palestinian battle, Netanyahu additional alarmed Palestinians by promising to annex Jewish settlements within the occupied West Bank if re-elected. Palestinians search a state there and within the Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

During the marketing campaign, Gantz stated a authorities beneath his stewardship would pursue peace, however stopped in need of committing to the institution of a Palestinian state.

Commenting on the election, Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat stated: “Israelis have voted to preserve the status quo. They have said no to peace and yes to the occupation”.

Israeli-Palestinian peace talks collapsed in 2014.

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An in depth end result within the election would put smaller events in a strong place, turning marginal political figures into kingmakers.

Once the votes are tallied, President Reuven Rivlin will ask events which have received parliamentary seats who they help for prime minister. He will then decide a celebration chief to attempt to kind a coalition, giving the candidate 28 days to take action, with a two-week extension if wanted.

One issue stands out as the turnout of voters from Israel’s 21 p.c Arab minority. Many have been angered by Israel’s nation-state legislation, handed in 2018, which declared that solely Jews have the proper of self-determination within the nation. Netanyahu supported the laws.

Netanyahu’s get together despatched screens outfitted with physique cameras to a variety of polling stations with Arab constituents on election day. Arab politicians condemned the transfer as voter intimidation.

Additional reporting by Rami Ayyub in Rosh Ha’ayin, Ron Bousso and Rawan Sheikh Ahmad in Haifa, Rahaf Ruby, Stephen Farrell, Dan Williams and Maayan Lubell in Jerusalem; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Sonya Hepinstall

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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