Israel PM Netanyahu Declares Victory in General Eection
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is the winner of the country's election held on March 17, after exit polls had first shown he was running neck and neck with the opposition Zionist Union.
According to Ynet News, Netanyahu's right-wing Likud is expected to have 29 seats in Parliament, a clear lead on Isaac Herzog's Zionist Union which is to get 24 seats.
Israel's Parliament, the Knesset, has 120 seats.
Election victory doesn't automatically give a party the right to form a government, with President Reuven Rivlin able to hand a mandate to either one of the two, based on who is more likely to forge a stronger government.
Rivlin said briefly after voting ended that he is convinced "only a unity government can prevent the rapid disintegration of Israel's democracy and new elections in the near future.
However, neither Netanyahu nor Herzog are willing to join forces, and are both pointing to their chances of forming a cabinet.
Other parties polled as follows: Joint Arab List (14), Yesh Atid (11), Kulanu (10), Bayit Yehudi (8), Shas (7). United Torah Judaism (6), Yisrael Beytenu (6), and Meretz (4).
Out of these, most of the parties which had garnered more support are thought to be more inclinded to form a government with Likud.
Netanyahu, who has been heading the government since 2009, was even said to be lagging behind Herzog in some polls in the eve of elections.
Turnout was 72 percent, three percent higher than in the last election. The boost in activity was marked by increased participation of Israeli Arabs due to the formation of a single entity, the Joint Arab List, to represent them.
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