It looks unlikely that Binyamin Netanyahu will be able to form a government and serve a fifth term as Israel’s prime minister, with the count following Tuesday’s election showing his right-wing/religious bloc falling short of the 61 seats required for a Knesset majority.
Despite Netanyahu’s failure, his main rivals, the centrist Kahol-Lavan (Blue and White) alliance led by former military chief-of-staff, did not win convincingly. Blue and White have 33 seats and the Likud bloc 32.
With the result too close to call as overseas and military ballots are still being counted, leading politicians are waiting before they embark on coalition negotiations.
Mr Gantz said on Wednesday it appeared from the polls that Israel’s longest-serving leader had been defeated but that it may be necessary to have yet another election.
In his own speech to his right-wing Likud party faithful, Mr Netanyahu, sipping water frequently and speaking in a hoarse voice, made no claim of victory or concession of defeat, saying he was awaiting the final outcome. Mr Netanyahu’s appearance in the dead of night at Likud election headquarters was a far cry from his triumphant declaration five months ago that he had won a close election.
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