'It Is a Night of Colossal Victory'

Election victory would make Netanyahu Israel's longest-serving PM
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 10, 2019 12:51 AM CDT
Updated Apr 10, 2019 6:41 AM CDT
Israel Election Too Close to Call
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Likud party leader kisses his wife Sara in from of his supporters after polls for Israel's general elections closed in Tel Aviv, Israel, Wednesday, April 10, 2019.   (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

Likud Party leader Benjamin Netanyahu looks headed for victory after Israel's election Tuesday night, in a tight race that initially pointed to a dead heat. Both Netanyahu and Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz declared victory, but Netanyahu is seen as the leader more likely to succeed: the support of right-wing and religious parties is expected to give him a coalition of around 65 seats in the 120-seat Knesset, with center, left-wing, and Arab parties giving Gantz around 55, the Guardian reports. If Netanyahu forms a coalition, he will serve a fifth term as prime minister, making him the longest-serving PM in Israel's history, the BBC reports.

"It is a night of colossal victory," he said Tuesday night. "I'm very touched that, for the fifth time, the people of Israel have believed in me." The 69-year-old, who is facing corruption allegations, campaigned on a security message, suggesting in the final days of his campaign that Israel might annex West Bank settlements. The Times of Israel reports that 3% of votes—those of soldiers and diplomats—remain to be counted and results will probably not be finalized until Wednesday afternoon. Talks to form a new government could last for weeks after that, depending on which smaller parties pass the 3.25% threshold to win seats in the Knesset. (Read more Israel stories.)

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