FINAL UPDATE – Israeli Elections: With 97% counted, Likud 37, Gantz 36 Shas 8 UTJ 8 – Bibi will be Next Prime Minister

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We will publish a new story when the vote count is 100% completed.

10:30 PM Tuesday night – final update – With 97% of the votes in, the seats are as follows: Likud 37, Blue & White 36, UTJ 8, Shas 8, Labor 6, Chadash Taal 6, Joint Right 5, Yisrael Beiteinu 5, Kulanu 4, Meretz 5. Bennett’s new party misses the threshold by a tenth of a point. He may just make it after soldiers votes are tallied in… this leaves Netanyahu with a solid right bloc majority.

These numbers can fluctuate a bit. Especially since any small party that passes the threshold, gets 4 seats thus rearranging the seat count.

But as of now — and possibly through Thursday — it remains unclear whether several small parties will cross the electoral threshold of 3.25%. And we won’t know until all the votes are in precisely how the 120 Knesset seats will be distributed among the parties.

Big surprises

The first is the unexpected success of the Shas party, which had previously been polling at 4-5 seats. The results, however, suggest it will win as many as eight Knesset seats, and — should Netanyahu form the coalition — could become the second-largest party in the government.

Another is the poor showing of the “dark horse” Zehut, which pre-election surveys had said could receive as many as 10 Knesset seats. It now appears unlikely to win any.

The center-left Labor Party, which governed the country in the first three decades of its existence, appears set to receive just 4% of the vote.

And most shocking of all is the humbling showing for the New Right, which is currently 0.1% from the threshold, leaving the political fortunes of former senior ministers Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked up in the air.

We appreciate you making us your election HQ, see you at the Democratic primaries!

8:00 PM It appears Netanyahu will become the Next Prime minister for his 5th term – a new record.

Israeli media outlets report that with 40% of the votes counted, Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party is in the lead with 40 seats, while his centrist rival Benny Gantz’s White and Blue is behind with 35 seats.  


7:20 PM: Netanyahu addressed his Likud base in Tel Aviv, who are cheering wildly and whistling.

“You are terrific, thank you, Remember, 23 years ago, it was the first time that Sara and I stood here. And here we have returned here, because of you and for you,”

He thanked the Likud ministers and all Knesset members.

“I am very moved on this night. This is a night of an incredible, incredible victory.”

He says it is a “fantastic achievement, an enormous achievement, which is almost unfathomable.”

He calls the Likud outcome “almost unprecedented,” saying, “When did we receive so many seats? I don’t even remember.”

Bibi concludes by thanking his wife, and his 2 sons.

7:00 PM Netanyahu, who is leading now in the real count, is speaking now – watch live.

There are some Trump signs at Bibi’s speech.

The crowd is singing ‘Bibi melech yisroel chai chai vikayam’

6:50 PM Channel 12 and Channel 13 update their exit polls as the official ballots are counted.

Both networks’ revised samples now indicate Netanyahu’s Likud will win 35 seats, compared to Blue and White’s 34, and can muster a coalition majority with ultra-Orthodox and right-wing parties.

The Channel 12 survey previously predicted 37 seats for Blue and White and 33 for Likud; Channel 13 had the two parties tied at 36.

Both exit polls now indicate that Shas would be the third-largest party with eight seats, followed by United Torah Judaism with 7. According to the TV stations, the New Right, Zehut and Gesher will fall under the electoral threshold.

In its breakdown of the political blocs, Channel 12 gives 63 of the 120 Knesset seats to the right, compared to 57 for the center-left, giving Netanyahu a clear path to forming a government. According to Channel 13, the right-wing bloc would receive 65 seats, compared to 55 for the center-left.

6:15 PM 228,000 votes have been counted so far

6:00 PM Read: GL Analysis – Netanyahu will likely be the next Prime Minister

5:31 PM Netanyahu to speak shortly in Tel Aviv – at the Solomon center.

5:26 PM Gantz just concluded speaking. In summary, he thanked Netanyahu for the work he did till now saying ‘We thank Netanyahu for his service, we will form the next government’ he went on to pledge to serve all people, not just those who voted for him. Religious, not religious, Jews, Non-Jews all types and all walks of life. He thanked his family and political partners. The crowd was very excited, with Gantz quieting them down multiple times. He slammed Netanyahu multiple times, and promised to make Israel’s interests his only focus.

5:16 PM Election results started coming in – only 29,000 votes counted so far.

5:15 PM Gantz starts off with Birchas Kohanim.

5:05 PM Gantz speaks LIVE

5:05 PM Gantz HQ is singing away. He is expected to speak shortly but Gantz is working the phones trying to secure parties to back him. Currently, Shas and UTJ are the only 2 parties who backed Netanyahu. Kulanu and Lieberman, although natural Likud partners, have not yet committed to anyone.

4:20 PM Real election numbers will not be available till early morning Israeli time – later this evening our time.

4:10 PM Benny Gantz is expected to speak shortly.

4:00 PM It is important to note that all these numbers are exit polls. They have been off in the past.

Likud HQ and White & Blue HQ are both excited and are convinced they will run the next government.

It will come down to the small parties. Exit polls show Bennets party just missing the threshold and some smaller left wing parties losing seats as well. They will be the main focus in the next few hours.

3:50 PM Avigdor Lieberman won’t say who he would recommend as Prime Minister, saying “The picture is too vague, there is a big gap between the samples and the results of the truth”. He refuses to answer the phone to Gantz and Netanyahu…

3:40 PM Reports indicate Bennet’s Right wing party is short only 6,000 votes. Soldiers votes were not yet tallied – which generally goes to the right wing parties.

3:20 PM Netanyahu and Gantz claimed victory. It is clear the left wing performed better than expected. The question is exactly how well they did.

3:15 PM 2 of 3 early exit polls show Bennett and Shaked exiting the Knesset.

There are 3 exit polls:

One outlet is reporting: Benny Gantz’s Blue and White party triumphed over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tuesday’s elections, as exit polls released late in the evening showed the party winning 37 of the Knesset’s 120 seats.

The victory could hand the premiership to Gantz, though his path to a coalition comprising at least 61 seats remains unclear. Netanyahu’s Likud Party came in second with 33 seats.

Exit polls suggest Feinglin’s right wing party does not make it into the knesset while left wing Meretz does. This indicates the left my be very close to indeed winning the government.

Another is reporting exit polls have them tied at 36 each.

The 3rd says: 37 seats for Gantz’s Blue and White, 36 seats for Netanyahu’s Likud

Exit polls suggest UTJ earned 7 seats.

The question remains which bloc will receive 61 votes…This is a developing story and will be updated

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