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March 17, 2015 4:21 pm

Exit Polls Show Stunning Rally for Netanyahu in Israeli Elections; Veteran Leader Likely to Retain Premiership

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Israeli President Reuven Rivlin casts his ballot. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Exit polls released by Israeli TV stations have shown an unexpected rally by Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party which leaves him likely to retain the premiership after today’s general elections in Israel.

Israel’s Channel 10 released numbers showing Likud and its main rival the Zionist Union in a dead heat with 27 seats each, while Channel 2 had Likud with 28 seats and the Zionist Union with 27.

The makeup of the remainder of the parties means it will be highly unlikely that the Zionist Union’s leader Isaac Herzog will be able to build a 61 seat majority coalition through alliances, leading to a historic fourth term for Netanyahu.

Polls leading up to today’s elections showed Likud trailing by up to 4 seats.

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Both channels showed the newly formed Joint Arab List in third place with 13 seats and both also showed fourth place going to Yair Lapid’s centrist Yesh Atid party. Channel 2 showed Yesh Atid with 12 seats while Channel 10 gave the party 11 seats.

Both polls gave 10 seats to Kulanu, a new party formed by former Likudnik Moshe Kahlon, who was widely seen as something of a kingmaker in the lead up to the elections.

Both polls also gave the right-wing Jewish Home party of Naftali Bennett just 8 seats down from a polling high of up to 17 a few months ago. With the threat of Netanyahu losing to a left-wing alliance, it is likely that many of his would-be backers flocked to Likud to ensure a victory for the right-wing bloc.

At Likud campaign headquarters in Tel Aviv, activists celebrated the apparent win, The Times of Israel reported.

“It’s an amazing victory,” one party activist said, according to the internet newspaper. “There’s no such thing as a left-wing government.”

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