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Israel: With 92% of Votes Counted, Netanyahu’s Bloc Slightly Ahead but Fails to Secure Majority

Exit polls show that Netanyahu’s right-wing bloc will gain 53-55 seats. The biggest party, according to the polls, is Benny Gantz’s Kahol Lavan. However, since neither Netanyahu nor Gantz appear to have gained a 61-seat majority, the two are likely to head to deliberations with President Reuven Rivlin who will determine which of them gets the mandate to try and form a governing coalition.

According to the polls, Kahol Lavan is leading with 32 Knesset seats, while Likud is projected to garner 30-32 seats.

In all three polls, the Joint List of Arab parties is projected to have twelve seats, while far-right Yamina, led by Ayelet Shaked, is projected to win 6-7 seats, and Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu is expected to receive 8-9 seats.

The ultra-Orthodox Shas party is projected to win nine seats in all three polls. United Torah Judaism is projected to win 7-8 seats.

The Democratic Union party is projected to win 5-6 seats, whereas Labor-Gesher, which teetered on the edge of the electoral threshold in polls leading up to the vote, is projected to win six seats in all three exit polls.

Rejecting the idea of any coalition that counts the Joint List, an alliance of Arab-led parties, as a partner, Netanyahu said there cannot be a government that relies on “parties that praise and glorify blood-thirsty terrorists who kill our soldiers, our citizens, our children.”

The comments could signal backing for unity from the combative Likud leader, as any left-center government would need the support of the Joint List without bringing in Likud or other right-wing or religious parties, according to preliminary results.

Early electoral math shows shaky unity bid sole path to break deadlock.