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November 1, 2022 5:02 pm
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Israeli Election 2022: Exit Polls Show Netanyahu Poised to Return to Power With Right-Wing Bloc

avatar by Sharon Wrobel

Leader of Israeli opposition Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a meeting with his Likud party in the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem June 14, 2021. Photo: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

Exit polls from Israel’s fifth election in less than four years released Tuesday night suggested former premier Benjamin Netanyahu and his right-wing allies secured a slim governing majority needed to form a government. The initial results show Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving leader, is poised to return to power as the country’s prime minister. However, the picture could still shift as exit polls are updated.

In the closely fought general election, television exit polls of three major Israeli news networks showed that Netanyahu’s Likud party will remain the country’s largest party with 30 to 31 seats, crossing the threshold to form a 61-seat governing coalition with right-wing allies in the 120-member parliament.

Official results will not be known until Wednesday or Thursday at the earliest and minor differences could significantly alter the makeup of Israel’s next government.

According to the first exit polls, Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party took second place with 22 to 24 parliamentary seats. Religious Zionism Party, an alliance of far-right parties made up of Bezalel Smotrich’s Religious Zionism, the Otzma Yehudit party led by ultra-nationalist Itamar Ben Gvir and the anti-LGBT Noam Party won 14 to 15 seats, representing the third largest party, according to the exit polls.

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Those results would give the center-left bloc, led by Prime Minister Yair Lapid 54 to 55 seats and the Netanyahu-led right-wing bloc 61 to 62 seats.

The exit polls from Israel’s Channel 12 gave Likud 31 seats, allotted 24 for Yesh Atid, Religious Zionism 14, and Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s National Unity Party 11. Sephardi religious party Shas won 10 seats and the Arab-dominated Ra’am party received 5 seats with center-left Labor 6.

Public broadcaster Kan’s exit polls gave Likud 30 seats, Yesh Atid 22, Religious Zionism 15 and National Unity 13. Shas received 10 seats, and Ra’am and Labor got 5 each.

Channel 13‘s exit polls showed Likud winning 31 seats, Yesh Atid 24, Religious Zionism 14 and National Unity 12. They gave Shas 10 seats and Labor and Ra’am 5 each.

In updated exit polls, the Arab party Balad was said to be close to crossing the 3.25% threshold, which in turn would bring the Netanyahu-led bloc of seats down to 60 seats, falling just one seat short of a 61 coalition majority.

Almost 70 percent of eligible voters on Tuesday cast their ballots in Israel’s election, set for the highest turnout the country has recorded since 1999.

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