Huge turnaround as Netanyahu snatches victory


In a remarkable last-minute turnaround, Benjamin Netanyahu has achieved a resounding victory in the Israeli elections.

With 99 per cent of ballots counted by 6am this morning local time, Likud emerged with 30 seats, six ahead of the next largest party bloc, Zionist Union, which won 24 seats.

Exit polls released at around 10pm the night before had indicated parity between the two main blocks.

This represented a major turnaround for Likud since the last pre-election poll was conducted on Friday, and at 1am Mr Netanyahu was already claiming a victory “against all odds”.

It is now certain that the next coalition will be led by Mr Netanyahu; probably composed of right-wing and religious parties.

Moshe Kahlon, leader of centrist party Kulanu, won 10 seats, and will still play a key role in helping Mr Netanyahu to build his coalition.

Left-wing party Meretz took four seats, and leader Zehava Galon said that she would resign.

The Arab Joint List was the third-largest party with 14 seats; followed by Yesh Atid with 11. Jewish Home took eight; Shas won seven, and Yisrael Beiteinu and United Torah Judaism took six each. It appeared that far-right party Yachad had failed to cross the electoral threshold.

Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said that he expected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to form the next government and that the Palestinians would respond by pushing forward their efforts to have Israeli leaders indicted at the International Criminal Court.

Around 71 per cent of Israelis voted, the highest turnout since 1999 and a reversal of a downward trend since 2009.

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