Polling stations opened at 7 a.m. on Tuesday and Israeli citizens headed for the ballots to vote for Israel’s 20th Knesset. Polls from the end of last week had left options open for a tight race. The TV exit polls were published at 10 p.m., as polling stations closed, after which official results began to roll in. The official final results won’t be publicized until Thursday.
Netanyahu, vying for the role for his fourth time (third consecutively), had made a last-ditch attempt over the past days to win back voters mainly from the right-wing bloc, vowing Monday night to block a Palestinian state should he remain in office.
Unlike years past, analysts had said the race between Likud and Zionist Union, the two leading factions, was too close to call with confidence, but the exit polls showed Netanyahu clearly better placed to build the next coalition.
UMM AL-FAHM — “We are in a historic moment,” Arab Joint List leader Ayman Odeh tells supporters at the party’s post-election event.
“We have the highest Arab voting rates since 1999,” he adds.
“We will block Netanyahu from forming the government.”
— Elhanan Miller
The Zionist Union’s candidate for defense minister, Amos Yadlin, insists the left and right are “tied” in the wake of tonight’s exit polls.
“I think this is a major achievement for Zionist Union. No poll gave us 27 mandates,” which the party gets in the polls. “I think you have to remember where Labor was three months ago, at 14 mandates, and where it is today.”
“Nothing is finished,” Yadlin insists. “Meretz passed the electoral threshold nicely and Yachad didn’t pass the threshold,” he notes, “so let’s wait for the final results. This is a tie, and the keys are in Moshe Kahlon’s hands,” he concludes.
Final turnout hits 71.8%, highest since 1999
Final voter turnout rises to 71.8%, according to final Central Election Committee data, higher than in the past five elections. It marks a five-point rise from 2013’s 66.6%.
Kahlon also tells Netanyahu to wait
Moshe Kahlon of Kulanu, like the ultra-Orthodox party United Torah Judaism, tells Netanyahu he will not decide who to support for premier until the final official results are published on Thursday.
He reportedly told the same to Isaac Herzog, who is frantically trying to put together a Netanyahu-blocking coalition that might force a unity government. Read the rest of this entry »