Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has declared victory in the general election held on Monday.
“We won by believing in our own way and by the people of Israel”, Netanyahu tweeted and attached a picture of a man “three weeks in intensive care” who voted for Likud.
Meanwhile, the exit poll of Channel 13 showed the potential coalition led by Netanyahu’s Likud gaining 59 seats in the Knesset, two seats short of a majority.
According to the preliminary data by the Central Elections Committee, Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud Party gained 31.49 percent of the vote, followed by the opposition Blue and White party of Benny Gantz with 23.90 percent. The Joint List, an alliance of four main Arab political parties in Israel, took its usual third place with 11.60 percent, and the religious Shas is in fourth place with 8.24 percent.
However, it seems like Netanyahu will be two seats short to form a coalition.
While the structure of the coalition is in question, Head of Yisrael Beiteinu party Avigdor Lieberman tweeted he would not join “any government led by Netanyahu and Shas and United Torah Judaism”.
Earlier, Netanyahu thanked his party’s supporters via Twitter as early exit polls said Likud was set to gain a majority of seats in the Knesset. Defense Minister Naftali Bennet also tweeted he would advise the president to mandate Netanyahu to form the government.
The March 2 election was an unprecedented case in the history of Israel, as it was the third election held in a row within less than a year. In April and September respectively, Likud failed to either secure a majority in the Knesset or negotiate a broader coalition with the opposition.