Tuesday’s vote in the Israeli election was the country’s second in just five months. The September election has been seen as a referendum on Benjamin Netanyahu’s last 10 years in office and was a showdown between his Likud party and main challenger, Benny Gantz’s Blue and White. In the 120-seat Knesset, Israel’s parliament, a 61-seat majority is needed to form a government.
Who won the Israeli election?
Exit polls following the second Israeli election in five months suggest the result is too close to call.
At 9am local time, the official tally said 42 percent of votes had been counted, with Likud on 28 percent, and Blue and White on 27 percent.
However, Israeli news outlets, citing sources within the elections committee, reported that around 90 percent of votes had been counted and showed a dead heat with the two main parties at 32 seats in the Knesset each.
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Official results are expected on Wednesday morning but a revised exit poll by Israel’s publican broadcaster Kan projected the Blue and White, Mr Gantz’ party, would win 31 seats and Likud 31.
In third place was the Israeli Arab Joint List with 13 seats followed by Avigdor Lieberman’s Israel Beitenu party with nine points.
The ultra-Orthodox Shas and United Torah Judaism parties got nine and eight seats respectively.
The left-wing Labour-Gesher won six and Democratic Union five.
But other exit polls have shown slightly different results for Likud and Blue and White.
Channel 12 News put both parties on 32 seats while an updated poll on Channel 13 News predicted Mr Gantz’ party would win 32 seats and Mr Netanyahu’s Likud 30.
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Is Benjamin Netanyahu still Prime Minister?
Benjamin Netanyahu will continue on as incumbent Prime Minister, but he will have no simple route to government.
If the polls are correct, the figures put him in an even weaker position than after April’s election.
Back then, coalition talks collapsed and if coalition talks go the same way this time round, Mr Gantz could now emerge as leader of Israel’s largest party.
Mr Lieberman, leader of the Israel Beitenu party, could be crucial in deciding who takes office.
In the Knesset, a 61-seat majority is needed for form government.
Following April’s election Mr Lieberman prevented Mr Natanyahu from forming a coalition because he refused to back down over a long-standing dispute with religious parties over a bill governing exemptions from military service for ultra-Orthodox young men.
On Tuesday night, he said: “We only have one option. A broad, liberal, national government made up of Yisrael Beiteinu, Likud and Blue and White.”
But opposition groups have vowed not to sit in a government with Mr Netanyahu as leader of Likud.
If the final results prove to be inconclusive, it will be up to President Reuven Rivlin to decide who gets the mandate to try to form government.
The chosen candidate will have 28 days to so, with a possible extension of no more than a fortnight.
Other possibilities could also play out, including a third election.