Israeli Election Puts Netanyahu on Track for Fifth Term

Beto O'Rourke Sean Hannity Racist Israel Benjamin Netanyahu

After polls closed on Tuesday, former defense minister and leader of the right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party, Avigdor Lieberman, told Israeli news site Haartez that he did not believe the exit polls were accurate, accusing pollsters of "manipulation and psychological warfare".

But a third exit poll predicted that the bloc would be tied with centre-left parties allied to Mr Gantz.

Exit polls put Likud and the rival Blue and White parties in a tight race.

At the sessions, which Rivlin said would be broadcast live "to ensure transparency", he will then pick a party leader to try to form a coalition, giving the candidate 28 days to do so, with a two-week extension if needed.

The Likud party with the help of other right-wing parties are likely to muster enough support to get a majority in the 120-seat parliament, known as Knesset.

Trump administration officials have said that they expect the plan for Israelis and Palestinians to be made public right after Israel's parliamentary election, with indications that it could happen even before the new government is formed, a process that could take several weeks.

Earlier while addressing cheering supporters who waived Israeli flags at an event hall in Tel Aviv, Gantz called it a "historic day".

"The fact that Bibi won, I think we'll see some pretty good action in terms of peace", he said.

As he walked onto the stage to chanting crowds, he planted a kiss on the lips of his wife Sara.

"But one thing we know about, and for sure, Netanyahu is the next prime minister", said Tzipi Hotovely, Israel's Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs.

As for the corruption case, it "could weaken [Netanyahu's] hand in negotiations with potential coalition partners, who may condition their support, should he be indicted, on Netanyahu meeting their demands for cabinet posts and policy concessions", Lubell explained.

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"This is an unimaginable achievement", Netanyahu told jubilant supporters at Likud Party headquarters in Tel Aviv in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Shushan Levi, 61, called Gantz's performance an "enormous victory for an alliance so new". The Blue and White will have to build a big lead to control the Prime Minister in the next government because Likud has a better chance of forming a coalition.

"He was my commander in the army 40 years ago".

The prime minister has served for roughly 13 years, in stints from 1996 to 1999 and again from 2009 until the present.

He engaged in populist rhetoric that critics said amounted to the demonisation of Arab Israelis and others.

- Labour dominated Israeli politics for years after the country's foundation in 1948, but has lost support as Israeli politics has moved to the right.

True to form, Netanyahu issued a controversial pledge only three days before the election, saying he planned to annex Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank should he win.

In his previous decade in power, peace has become more distant, as have hopes of a sovereign Palestinian state.

Such a move would previously have been nearly unthinkable, leaving Israel diplomatically isolated.

But with Mr Trump's moves on Jerusalem and the Golan, the Prime Minister may feel emboldened to complete annexation. Netanyahu dismissed the claims, and if exit polling is anything to go by, so did many voters.

The Times of Israel reports that voter turnout was 67.8 percent, which is down from 2015's 71.8 percent.

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