With almost all votes in, Netanyahu-led right wins decisively
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2019 Knesset elections

With almost all votes in, Netanyahu-led right wins decisively

Right-wing bloc’s success gives PM clear path to form new government, despite Likud tying in seats with Gantz’s Blue and White; New Right and Zehut fail to cross threshold

  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, surrounded by Likud politicians and his wife Sara, addresses his supporters as the the results of the Israeli general elections are announced, at the party headquarters in Tel Aviv, in the early hours of April 10, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/FLASH90)
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, surrounded by Likud politicians and his wife Sara, addresses his supporters as the the results of the Israeli general elections are announced, at the party headquarters in Tel Aviv, in the early hours of April 10, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/FLASH90)
  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu kisses his wife Sara before addressing Likud supporters as the the results of the Israeli general elections are announced, at the party headquarters in Tel Aviv, in the early hours of April 10, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/FLASH90)
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu kisses his wife Sara before addressing Likud supporters as the the results of the Israeli general elections are announced, at the party headquarters in Tel Aviv, in the early hours of April 10, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/FLASH90)
  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) greets supporters at his Likud Party headquarters in the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv on election night early on April 10, 2019. (Photo by Jack GUEZ / AFP)
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) greets supporters at his Likud Party headquarters in the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv on election night early on April 10, 2019. (Photo by Jack GUEZ / AFP)
  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu celebrates with his wife Sara before addressing Likud supporters as the the results of the Israeli general elections are announced, at the party headquarters in Tel Aviv, in the early hours of April 10, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/FLASH90)
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu celebrates with his wife Sara before addressing Likud supporters as the the results of the Israeli general elections are announced, at the party headquarters in Tel Aviv, in the early hours of April 10, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/FLASH90)
  • Head of the Blue White political party Benny Gantz speaks to supporters as the results in the Israeli general elections are announced,  at the party headquarters in Tel Aviv, on April 09, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/FLASH90)
    Head of the Blue White political party Benny Gantz speaks to supporters as the results in the Israeli general elections are announced, at the party headquarters in Tel Aviv, on April 09, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/FLASH90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu clinched a clear victory early Wednesday morning in Israel’s general elections.

With some 97 percent of votes in Tuesday’s contest counted, his Likud party was tied with Blue and White, but his right-wing/ultra-Orthodox bloc held a decisive lead and Netanyahu was thus safely en route to forming a majority governing coalition.

With more than four million votes counted as of 9 a.m., Likud had snagged 26.27% of the vote, or 35 seats in the 120-seat legislature — the party’s best result since the 2003 election (when it won 38 seats under Ariel Sharon), and its best under Netanyahu.

Likud’s main rival in the election, the Blue and White party led by Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid, won 25.94% of the vote, which would also give it 35 seats, but had insufficient support from other parties to prevent Netanyahu staying in power for what will be a fifth term.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) greets supporters at his Likud Party headquarters in the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv on election night early on April 10, 2019. (Photo by Jack GUEZ / AFP)

In actual numbers, only some 14,000 votes separated the two biggest parties.

Head of the Blue White party Benny Gantz (2L) and his top allies Moshe Ya’alon, Gabi Ashkenazi and Yair Lapid greet their party supporters following the release of election exit polls at the party headquarters in Tel Aviv, on April 09, 2019 (Hadas Parush/FLASH90)

No other party appeared to break double digits in number of seats.

With his Likud at 35, and five right-wing and ultra-Orthodox parties managing to get some 30 seats together, Netanyahu could confidently work to form a government similar to his current right-wing coalition, with a solid 65 seats.

On the other side of the fence, four left-wing and Arab parties combined for just 20 seats, putting them en route to the opposition along with Blue and White.

Coming in at a surprising third and fourth places behind Likud and Blue and White were the ultra-Orthodox parties Shas and United Torah Judaism, with 6.10% (8 seats) and 5.90% (8 seats) respectively.

Rabbi Israel Hager votes for Israel’s parliamentary election at a polling station in Bnei Brak, Israel, Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

Fifth was the predominantly Arab Hadash-Ta’al with 4.61% or six seats.

Avi Gabbay, leader of the Israeli Labor Party, speaks during an elections campaign event at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, April 6, 2019. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

The historically dominant Labor Party crashed to sixth place with 4.46% (six seats), the party’s worst showing in its 71-year history.

With five seats each were Yisrael Beytenu (with 4.15%) and the Union of Right-Wing Parties (3.66%).

Meanwhile Meretz (3.64%), Kulanu (3.56%) and Arab party Ra’am-Balad (3.45%) had four seats each.

In a shock development, the New Right party, led by Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked, appeared to have failed to cross the electoral threshold of 3.25%, garnering just 3.14% of the vote, thought it held out hopes that soldiers’ votes could lift it above the threshold; those final votes should be tallied by early Thursday morning.

Zehut party leader Moshe Feiglin addresses supporters and journalists at what was meant to be a victory party in Ramat Gan on April 9, 2019. (Melanie Lidman/Times of Israel)

Another surprise was Moshe Feiglin’s Zehut, which had surged in surveys in recent weeks, polling as high as 6-8 seats. In the end, the far-right pro-marijuana legalization party only drew the support of 2.53% of voters, placing it on the outside looking in.

Also failing to make it in was Orly Levy-Abekasis’s Gesher, with 1.75%.

The results were not final, with tens of thousands of ballots yet to be counted.

Election officials said turnout was 67.8%, down from 2015’s turnout of 71.8%.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu kisses his wife Sara before addressing Likud supporters as the the results of the Israeli general elections are announced, at the party headquarters in Tel Aviv, in the early hours of April 10, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/FLASH90)
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