Israel election: Netanyahu falls short of majority in exit polls

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The election has been widely seen as a referendum on Benjamin Netanyahu’s leadership

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is predicted to fall short of securing the seats needed to form a new government in Israel’s fourth election in two years, according to exit polls.

Mr Netanyahu’s Likud party and its allies are projected to win 52 or 53 seats in the 120-seat Knesset.

Parties opposed to the prime minister staying in office look set to win 60.

It means that even with the support of the nationalist Yamina party, Mr Netanyahu would not have a majority.

Yamina, led by former Netanyahu loyalist Naftali Bennett, is forecast to win seven seats, but has not explicitly declared which side it will support.

“I will do only what is good for the State of Israel,” Mr Bennett said in a statement after the exit polls were released.

He added that he had told Mr Netanyahu that Yamina would await the final results before deciding on its next steps.

Israel’s Central Elections Committee does not expect all of the votes to be counted before Wednesday afternoon due to coronavirus-related restrictions.

Mr Netanyahu thanked his supporters in a tweet late on Tuesday. “You gave a huge win to the right and Likud under my leadership. Likud is the biggest party by far.”

“It’s clear most Israelis are right-wing, and want a strong, stable right-wing government,” he added.

Meanwhile the main opposition leader Yair Lapid, whose centrist Yesh Atid party is projected to win between 16 and 18 seats in the Knesset, said he was “proud” of his party’s “enormous” achievement. (BBC)

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