Netanyahu Pledges Strong, Zionist Government as He Awaits Election Results
As the country awaits final results, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed supporters at his election headquarters in Jerusalem, declaring that Israel needs “a strong government, a stable government, a Zionist government, a government that is committed to Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people.”
“We’re still waiting for the results,” he stated. “But one thing is clear, the State of Israel is at a historic turning point. We are facing immense opportunities, and immense challenges… including the existential threat from Iran.”
“As you see, I am hoarse,” Netanyahu exclaimed amid cheers from supporters. “And as you know, it’s better to lose your voice than to lose the country!”
“I said the election was hard. That’s not the word,” he continued. “We faced a campaign that was so tilted against us by the biased media, so against us.”
Exit polls from all three of Israel’s major television networks project no clear winner in today’s historic Israeli elections, which took place five months after the last round of voting failed to form a stable governing coalition for the first time in the country’s history.
Exit polls in Israel are not final results and have in the past been wildly inaccurate. The final vote tally is not expected until tomorrow morning or early afternoon in Israel.
The Jerusalem Postreported on the exit polls:
Channel 13, whose pollster Camil Fuchs had the most accurate exit poll in the April election, [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu’s Likud party won 31 seats, and his Center-Right bloc a total of 54 seats. The Center-Left bloc of Blue and White leader Benny Gantz won 58 and his party won 33.
The exit poll gave 13 seats for the Joint List, eight each for Yisrael Beytenu, Shas and United Torah Judaism and six each for Yamina, the Democratic Union and Labor-Gesher. Otzma Yehudit did not cross the threshold in any of three polls aired Tuesday night on the three networks.
The other two polls gave the Center-Right bloc an advantage, 57-55 in Channel 12’s poll and 56-54 in Channel 11’s. An exit poll on Channel 12 predicted 34 for Blue and White, 33 for Likud, 11 for the Joint List, eight each for Yamina, Yisrael Beytenu, Shas, and UTJ and five each for the Democratic Union and Labor-Gesher.
If the polls turn out to be accurate, that would once again make Yisrael Beytenu, headed by Avigdor Lieberman, into the kingmaker. This means Lieberman’s party is needed by either Netanyahu or Blue and White leader Benny Gantz to form a coalition consisting of more than 60 seats in the 120 seat Knesset.
Lieberman has repeatedly vowed to reject any coalition between Netanyahu and ultra-religious parties, instead vowing to attempt a national unity government that encompasses both Likud and Blue and White. Such unity talks could spell trouble for Netanyahu since Gantz has said that he is open to a grand coalition with Likud if the party first dumps the longtime Israeli leader and replaces Netanyahu with a new party head.
Already Blue and White MK Yoaz Hendel claimed the “the Netanyahu era is over” and used the exit polls to urge a unity government without Netanyahu.
Likud Minister Tzachi Hanegbi, however, said he is “convinced” that the exit polls are all wrong and that Netanyahu “will continue to lead us for the next five years.”
There could be dramatic differences between the exit polls and the actual final results. During the election on April 9, the major television networks showed Blue and White ahead of Likud, resulting in a decision by Gantz to infamously prematurely deliver a victory speech. Ultimately, it will be the size of each party after final results that will determine whether Gantz or Netanyahu will have the first shot at forming a coalition. It could take weeks of negotiations to eventually form a coalition.
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.