Netanyahu Declares Victory ‘Against All Odds’ After Publication of Exit Poll Results
Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu and his ruling Likud Party declared victory this evening in the country’s general election after the release of TV exit poll results. Despite being consistently placed behind the rival Zionist Union in polls leading up to the election, Netanyahu’s Likud closed the gap with the opposition, according to the figures.
“Against all odds, Likud achieved a great victory, a great victory for the nationalist camp under the Likud’s leadership, a great victory for the People of Israel,” Prime Minister Netanyahu wrote on his Facebook page around 10:40 PM local time.
Estimates indicate that Netanyahu may be able to form a government with a coalition of right-wing parties, without having to sit in a national unity government with Zionist Union head Isaac Herzog, according to Israel’s NRG. However, early reports indicate that President Reuven Rivlin might recommend the formation of a unity government.
After the exit polls were published, Netanyahu called the chairman of the allied Bayit Yehudi party, Naftali Bennett. Bennett congratulated Netanyahu on his victory, and both of them agreed to begin negotiations in order to establish a nationalist government and to work together towards ensuring the security of the State of Israel and the People of Israel. Netanyahu also spoke with Moshe Kahlon, whose Kulanu party won 10 seats, who responded that he would discuss coalition building when the real results are out.
Minister of the Interior Gilad Erdan said that the results are a “great victory for Likud and Benjamin Netanyahu, against all of the odds and the forces working against us, like the tensions with the Americans and the money that was given to the V15.”
However, despite Likud’s victory claims, Herzog’s Zionist Union refused to admit defeat yet, and said they would also work to form the next government. A statement issued by the party said, “The Likud is mistaken – the Right-wing bloc has shrunk. Everything is still open until the final results [are issued], only then will we be able to know which parties actually passed the threshold and we’ll know what government can be formed.”