Israel Election: Netanyahu Wins Stunning Victory Against Political Rival

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Monday’s election was Israel’s third in less than a year, after neither leader was able to form a government.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has surged ahead of his chief political rival in the country’s third election in under 12 months Monday, according to exit polling.

Exit polls are streaming in and it appears that Benjamin Netanyahu’s party has defeated rival Benny Gantz’s centrist Blue and White party.

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Netanyahu’s Likud Party is set to receive 37 seats – four seats more than rival Benny Gantz’s Blue and White party, according to Israel’s Channel 12.

Mr Netanyahu declared the outcome “the biggest win of my life”.

Monday’s election was Israel’s third in less than a year, after neither leader was able to form a government.

Netanyahu’s party together with other right-wing parties have earned 60 seats in Israel’s 120-seat parliament. That means they are one seat shy of having a large enough majority to form a government.

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Despite being one seat short, a Likud spokesperson said the right-wing party leaders agree to form a “strong national government” as soon as possible.

With 90% of votes counted, Mr Netanyahu’s Likud party has won 29.3%, compared to 26.3% for Mr Gantz’s centrist Blue and White party.

Supporters at Likud headquarters cheered and hugged as exit polls revealed that Netanyahu’s Likud Party is the largest party in the Knesset.

Netanyahu tweeted “thank you” after hearing about his party’s impressive win.

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Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, Mr Netanyahu, 70, is seeking a record fifth term, having been in office from 1996 to 1999 and again from 2009.

Meanwhile, Blue and White supporters sat in stunned silence at Gantz’s headquarters. “The main feeling is one of disappointment,” activist Nachum Schwartzberg told The Times of Israel.

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High voter turnout despite fears of the coronavirus seems to be responsible for Likud’s victory.

More than 70 percent of Israelis showed up at the polls Monday in hopes of choosing a leader and breaking through a nearly year-long political stalemate.

If Netanyahu is able to form a government coalition, he will continue reigning as Israel’s longest-serving prime minister.

If he cannot form a government, Israel will be on track to yet another election.

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