Netanyahu, Gantz both claim victory as Israel election too close to call | All Charts News - breaking news english


Date created : 09/04/2019 – 18:44Latest update : 09/04/2019 – 23:32

Israel votes Tuesday as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fends off a challenge from former military chief Benny Gantz. Follow FRANCE 24’s live coverage of preliminary results starting at 9pm Paris time (GMT+2).


To follow FRANCE 24’s live coverage of the preliminary results starting at 9pm Paris time (GMT+2), click on the video player above.

The first exit polls cited by Israeli media showed contradictory results, indicating that the race is too close to call. KAN TV reported Gantz’s alliance had won 37 seats to 36 for Netanyahu’s Likud while other television channels said the two were tied.

Israeli exit polls are often imprecise and final results are expected early Wednesday.

Both camps quickly claimed victory.

“We won! The Israeli public has had their say!” the Blue and White alliance (Kahol Lavan) said as the results continued to roll in. “These elections have a clear winner and a clear loser.”

Netanyahu also said that his right-wing bloc had won a “clear victory”.

“I thank the citizens of Israel for the trust,” he said, adding: “I will begin building a right-wing government with our natural partners tonight.”

Yohanan Plesner, a former lawmaker and head of the non-partisan Israel Democracy Institute, called the conflicting exit polls “an unprecedented situation”.

“We’ve had elections before where he didn’t know the results but here it is even messier,” he said.

No one party has ever won a ruling majority in the 120-seat Knesset, and building a parliamentary coalition  which could take weeks  will ultimately determine the winner. Moreover, the right-wing bloc in parliament favours Netanyahu and could make him prime minister even if Gantz’s party wins more seats.

Indictments ahead

Netanyahu, 69, served a first term as prime minister from 1996 to 1999 and has been in power since 2009. His victory would secure him a record fifth term and put him on track to become Israel’s longest-serving prime minister.

But Netanyahu is also facing possible indictment in three corruption cases. Israel‘s attorney general in February confirmed his intention to indict the prime minister on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust.

In a last-minute appeal to hardliners, Netanyahu on Saturday vowed to annex Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank if he wins.

Gantz, 59, has indicated he would be willing to make territorial concessions but has evaded questions on Palestinian statehood. His Blue and White centrist alliance has touted his security credentials and campaigned on more transparency in government.