By Sputnik Correspondent
Early results in the Israeli polls conducted on 17 September show that two major competing parties are nearly tied, with neither one appearing to get a clear-cut majority, meaning Likud’s Benjamin Netanyahu and his main rival Benny Gantz, the leader of the Israel Resilience Party, are locked in a tight race for leadership. Even if they team up with their respective coalition parties they’re set for further negotiations.
Netanyahu addressed an audience while the parties were awaiting the results, reiterating his intention to establish a “strong Zionist government” while preventing an “anti-Zionist” one, clearly taking a dig at Israel’s Arab parties, with exit polls showing they could become the third-largest force in the new government. The sitting prime minister also praised President Trump at a rally, calling him “a close friend” and asserting “negotiations” with the American head of state will shape the future of Israel for decades to come. He also stressed the government and nation are at a historic junction, while picking the direction for them to go.
Benny Gantz, a 59-year-old retired general who from 2011 to 2015 served as the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) chief of staff, meanwhile, sounded more cautious when referring to the second time “the citizens of Israel gave their trust to us”, spawning chants from the crowd: “Who is this? The next prime minister!”
Per Israel’s Channel 12, it has been informed by sources in the Central Elections Committee, that at least 85% of the national vote has been counted. The station says that according to unofficial results, Netanyahu’s Likud and Gantz’s Blue and White are tied at 32 seats and that including minor parties, the right-wing bloc has a total of 56 seats, the centre-left boasts 55 and Lieberman has 9. According to the sources, a majority of votes have already been counted, but subjected to increased scrutiny as the CEC is doing recounts to ensure the output data is accurate.
Netanyahu pledged last week (as part of his campaign) to seize up to a third of the contested West Bank, declaring it would become a part of Israel if he was re-elected. The governmental sources cited by the media said that the only thing Netanyahu is waiting for is the American peace plan, reportedly due to be released soon.
This is the second time Israel has held a vote this year: in April, Netanyahu narrowly defeated Gantz but failed to form a government, setting up another vote to have a new try. Separately, the second poll came weeks after the prime minister was at the centre of a few corruption scandals and lawsuits, while retaining the top governmental position is expected to grant him immunity from prosecution. (IPA Service)
Courtesy: Sputnik International