Netanyahu cheers Likud’s ‘great accomplishment’ of finishing as largest party

Prime Minister Netanyahu arrives at the Likud election party in Jerusalem, where the mood appears largely subdued after updated exit polls indicated the premier’s right-wing religious bloc fell short of a majority.

Netanyahu and his wife Sara take the stage as the Likud jingle plays, waiving to cheering lawmakers and supporters. Chants of “Bibi, king of Israel” are heard.

He says “this evening we achieved a great accomplishment,” noting Likud finished well ahead of other parties. Exit polls said the party would get 30-31 seats, down from 36 in the outgoing Knesset.

Netanyahu touts the success of Israel’s vaccination drive and says Israel is now exiting the pandemic, which he calls “the third world war.”

He calls for the formation of a “stable government” and says he won’t rule out anyone.