Netanyahu and Rival Gantz Both Claim Victory Following Exit Polls

This combination of pictures created on April 02, 2019 shows (L) Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking to journalists in Jerusalem on February 3, 2019 and former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz delivering his first electoral speech in Tel Aviv on January 29, 2019
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TEL AVIV – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared a “clear victory” for his Likud party — even as main challenger Benny Gantz insisted that his Blue and White party had won the tight elections Tuesday. Unfazed, Netanyahu announced that he will immediately embark on talks to form a government.

Tuesday night’s exit polls show that “the right-wing bloc led by the Likud has won a clear victory,” Netanyahu said.

“I thank the citizens of Israel for their trust, and I will begin forming a right-wing government with our natural partners tonight,” he added.

Blue and White, meanwhile, also declared victory.

“We won! The Israeli public has had its say!” party leaders Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid said.

Netanyahu needs other potential coalition partners in the right-wing bloc to recommend him for the premiership to President Reuven Rivlin.

According to the Hebrew-language Ynet news site, Netanyahu has already spoken with ultra-Orthodox party leaders to enter his coalition, including Shas leader Aryeh Deri and United Torah Judaism’s head Yaakov Litzman.

“Litzman has informed [Netanyahu] that UTJ will recommend him to the president,” a statement from United Torah Judaism said.

Exit polls had Netanyahu’s Likud party both tying with and losing to main challenger Benny Gantz’s Blue and White party — depending on whom you ask.

Still, in two out of three main exit polls, the right-wing bloc had a better chance to form the next government led by Netanyahu as opposed to his Blue and White rivals.

Israeli exit polls, however, have been notoriously unreliable in past elections.

In Channel 12’s exit polls, published at 10 p.m. at the closing of the ballot box, Netanyahu took 33 seats — four less than Gantz’s 37. Channel 12’s exit polls saw the right-wing bloc tied with the left-wing at 60 seats apiece, meaning Netanyahu did not have a clear coalition outright.

But Channel 13’s polls found both main parties securing 36 seats. That poll gave Netanyahu a clear path to a right-wing coalition with 64 seats compared to 54 seats for the left and center.

And according to Channel 11, Netanyahu’s party still had less than Blue and White, but only by a single seat at 36 while Blue and White had 37.

The Kan broadcaster showed 64 for the right bloc and 56 for the left.

The final results will be only be released on Wednesday.

Below is the full list of exit polls according to different channels:

Channel 11

Blue and White 37

Likud

Labor 8

United Torah Judaism 7

Hadash-Ta’al 6

Meretz 5

Kulanu 5

Union of Right-wing Parties 5

Yisrael Beytenu 4

Channel 12:

Blue and white 37

The Likud 33

United Torah Judaism 7

Labor 6

Hadash-Ta’al 6

Balad-Ra’am 6

Meretz 5

Yisrael Beytenu 5

Union of Right-wing Parties 5

Kulanu 4

Channel 13:

Blue and White 37

Likud 36

Labor 7

Hadash-Ta’al 7

United Torah Judaism 7

Shas 7

Union of Right-wing Parties 4

New Right 4

Meretz 4

Kulanu 4

Yisrael Beytenu 4

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