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According to Israel’s Haaretz newspaper, Netanyahu’s Likud party has won 36 seats, with 90% of the votes counted. That puts him narrowly ahead of his main rival, Benny Gantz, but it may not be enough for him and his allies
“If they don’t by tomorrow, we’re moving back into a territory where we may see a fourth election on the horizon,” said Ryan Bohl, Middle East and North Africa analyst at Stratfor.
This election was called after two previous polls left Israel in a political deadlock with no majority in parliament.
“But even if they do, they push over to a 61-vote majority
Bohl said the Israeli leader is likely to prioritize “immunity legislation” for himself, but that may not get past lawmakers.
“It’s a very open question about whether or not that legislation would survive a narrow, somewhat fractured coalition,” he said, noting that it has “ambitious” insiders who might like to replace Netanyahu.
“So, even as he may win the day and win the battle, there’s still a very long war for his own political survival, and the outcome is not guaranteed,” he added.
The Associated Press reported that exit polls saw Netanyahu and his allies winning 60 seats, just one seat shy of reaching a majority.
The prime minister could invite members of other parties to join his coalition in the Knesset, which has 120 seats, but it’s “hard to imagine”
He said that the next vote could happen three or four months from now.
“Of course, that’s bad news for the Israelis,” he said. “It’s expensive, it’s annoying, but certainly not out of the realm (of possibility).”
That may be what opposition candidates are hoping for, Schanzer said. “By then, Netanyahu will be standing trial, and that may change the equation entirely.”
However, as results continued to be reported, Avigdor Lieberman, the chairman of Yisrael Beiteinu, said his party will act to prevent a fourth round at the polls, according to The Times of Israel.
“We will do everything to prevent fourth elections. We will decide to go here or there,” he said.
Lieberman previously held out and did not join forces with either of the two major blocs led by Netanyahu and Gantz.