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Israeli Election Update: Too Close To Call

If the exit polling holds true to the actual ballots cast, it’s too close to call…

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud tied with the opposition center-left Zionist Union led by Isaac Herzog in Tuesday’s Israeli parliamentary elections, with a slight advantage for the former, exit polls showed.

The Zionist Union and the Likud are predicted to win 27 seats respectively in the 120-member parliament, according to the exit polls conducted by Israel’s Channel 1 and Channel 10.

Another exit poll, conducted by Channel 2, gave the Likud one seat lead over the center-left Zionist Union, with the former winning 28 seats.

The biggest surprise of the election was the Join List, an unprecedented coalition of Israel’s Arab parties, which is poised to be the third largest party in the parliament with 12 to 13 seats, according to the exit polls.

The alliance was formed in January to unite the usually-squabbling small Arab parties after the threshold to enter the parliament was raised from two percent to 3.25 percent in early 2014.

The center Yesh Atid party led by former Finance Minister Yair Lapid came in fourth with 11 to 12 seats.

The results also showed that the dovish bloc narrowly leads the hawkish bloc, with 56 to 57 seats for the center-left camp and 54 seats for the right-wing and ultra-Orthodox parties. The centrist Kulanu party, headed by Moshe Kahlon who is not committed to either blocs, won ten seats.

The results, however, may change as vote counting is continuing throughout the night. Official results are expected to be announced early Wednesday morning.

In the polls, 15,000 Israelis were interviewed out of 5.88 million eligible voters outside polling posts across the country. The results were released right after the polls closed at 10 p.m. (2000 GMT).

Naturally, Bibi was quick to declare victory…

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has declared victory after a tight national election appeared to give him the upper hand in forming the country’s next coalition government.

In a statement released on Twitter, Netanyahu says that “against all odds” his Likud party and the nationalist camp secured a “great victory.”

Initial exit polls showed Netanyahu’s Likud Party deadlocked with the center-left Zionist Union.

But the results indicated that Netanyahu will have an easier time cobbling together a majority coalition with hard-line and religious allies.

Netanyahu said he had already begun to call potential partners.

Some more press links… Israel elections: Netanyahu claims victory in polls

In close Israel vote, leader of upstart party is kingmaker

Election in Israel: Exit polls show neck-and-neck race

Israeli Election Update: Joint List Wins 13 Seats, Third Place, In “Historic Moment”

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