Israeli election results too close to call as Netanyahu seeks fifth term

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The race in Israel’s parliamentary elections to determine whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will serve a fifth term in office is too close to call, according to exit polls released Tuesday.

Polling stations opened at 7 a.m. to some 6.4 million eligible voters. With neither the Likud or Blue and White political parties having a clear advantage over another, the official results are expected to come in overnight.

Netanyahu, who is seeking a fourth consecutive term as part of the Likud party, faces stiff competition from Benny Gantz, a retired military chief who identifies with Blue and White — a party which has a narrow lead ahead of Likud, according to local news Channels 12 and Kan TV.


Channel 10 TV, however, showed the parties in a tie following the vote.

The channels also gave different breakdowns for possible coalitions, with two stations giving Netanyahu’s right-wing bloc a slight parliamentary majority while Channel 12 had them tied at 60 seats apiece.

Gantz voted Tuesday alongside his wife in his hometown of Rosh Haayin in central Israel, where he urged Israelis to vote in the election.

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“Go to vote. Choose whoever you believe in. Respect each other and let us all wake up for a new dawn, a new history,” he said, telling voters to “take responsibility” for their democracy.

Netanyahu voted in Jerusalem, also alongside his wife, and called voting a “sacred act.” If he wins reelection, he would become Israel’s longest-serving leader, following founding father David Ben-Gurion.

The prime minister on Saturday vowed that, if reelected, he would extend Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank. Speaking to Channel 12, he said he was contemplating moves that would put a stop to decades of Israel’s policy recognizing that the lands it seized in the 1967 war would be part of a negotiated settlement with the Palestinians.

What happens to the land is one of the most contentious issues between Israelis and Palestinians, who argue that the presence of settlements would make a future independent state impossible.

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Netanyahu pledged that he would not dismantle a single Jewish settlement and that Israel would retain control of the territory west of the Jordan River, known as the West Bank. More than 600,000 Israelis currently live on the war-won lands, the majority live in the West Bank.

Arab voters appeared poised to play a role in the outcome of Tuesday’s election — by not voting. Many Arabs, accusing Netanyahu of incitement, were boycotting the election. An hour before polls closed, Arab turnout was at 46%, well below the 61% turnout nationwide, and Arab political and religious leaders made a last-minute appeal for their followers to vote.

This is a developing story; please check back for updates. Fox News’ Talia Kaplan and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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