New Delhi: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces tough re-election to office as exit polls predicted that his party, the Likud, was in a neck-and-neck battle with the opposition and main challenger Blue and White, led by Benny Gantz. Three exit polls aired by news channels show that neither of the two parties would get enough numbers to secure a majority in the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament.
According to exit polls, Netanyahu’s Likud is projected to win 30-33 seats, while Gantz’s Blue and White, 32-34 seats. An Israeli Prime Minister or coalition needs to have at least 61 seats in the 120-seat Knesset.
Netanyahu, who recently said that Israel will build 300 settlements in the West Bank, is seeking a third term in office, as well a second consecutive one, having been Prime Minister since 2009.
Speaking to his supporters, Netanyahu said that in the next few days, he will work to form a ‘strong, Zinoist government’ and prevent a ‘dangerous, anti-Zionist’ party to come to power. Gentz, meanwhile, told his supporters that he will act to form a broad unity government that will express the ‘will of the people.’
Israelis voted on September 17, for the second time this year after both Likud and Blue and White won 35 seats each in the Parliamentary elections, originally held in April. Netanyahu’s failure to form a coalition government was the first such failure in Israel’s history. On May 30, the Knesset dissolved to vote itself; the first-ever time it did such a thing before a government was formed.
The official and final results are expected to be announced later on Wednesday.