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'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

(Newser) – 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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