Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his main rival Benny Gantz cast their votes in Jerusalem on Tuesday.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his main rival Benny Gantz cast their votes in Jerusalem on Tuesday.

In contradictory exit polls, Netanyahu, Gantz claim victory in Israeli parliamentary elections

ANI | Updated: Apr 10, 2019 03:03 IST

Jerusalem [Israel], Apr 10 (ANI): As voting for the 21st parliamentary elections in Israel came to an end on Tuesday (local time), Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his main rival Benny Gantz both claimed victory in the elections after exit polls predicted a majority for Likud party, but forecasted the Blue and White party making major gains in the 120-seat Knesset (Parliament).
Exit polls, which were released at 10 pm (local time), predicted a tight race for the presidential post.
According to local media, two exit polls gave the right-wing bloc led by Likud party a 64-seat majority in the 120-seat Knesset. However, two to three exit polls saw the Blue and White party gaining more seats than the Likud party.
Responding to the exit polls, Netanyahu said that the Likud party and other right-wing parties secured a "clear majority", and would form the government "as soon as tonight".
“The right-wing bloc led by the Likud won a clear victory. I thank the citizens of Israel for the trust. I will start forming a right-wing government with our natural partners as soon as tonight,” he tweeted.
Gantz, a former Israeli army general, claimed victory in the ensuing parliamentary polls and said that the public "has had their say" and the elections have a "clear winner" and a "clear loser".
"We won! The Israeli public has had their say! Thank you to the thousands of activists and over a million voters. These elections have a clear winner and a clear loser. Netanyahu promised 40 seats and lost. The President can see the picture and should call on the winner to form the next government. There is no other option!” he tweeted.
An exit poll conducted by Israel’s Channel 12 projected the Likud party bagging 33 seats and the Blue and White party with 37 seats.
Millions of Israelis exercised their franchise to elect members of its national legislature, Knesset, in what has been described as a closely fought battle. A total of 39 diverse political parties participated in the elections for the 21st legislature.
However, this time it is a closely fought election between Netanyahu and Gantz.
Surveys showed that Gantz’s centrist Blue and White party is slightly ahead of Netanyahu’s Likud party. But Netanyahu still has a favourable option of forming a majority coalition with other right-wing parties and retain his office.
Despite reeling under a series of corruption allegations, Netanyahu is seeking a fifth term in office. If he wins, he would become Israel’s longest-serving leader surpassing the country's founding father David Ben-Gurion.
In the final days of his election campaign, Netanyahu had vowed to annex settlements in the occupied West Bank if re-elected. The leader even dubbed himself as the underdog and warned that “the right-wing government is in danger".
Meanwhile, Gantz said that Israel needed to choose between “a direction of unity and connection and hope” and one of “extremism”. He vowed to form “a cabinet of reconciliation, with representatives from the current coalition and opposition”.
Final results of the elections are likely to be out on April 11 (Thursday). (ANI)