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Israeli election too close to call, Netanyahu weakened - exit polls

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Israeli election too close to call, Netanyahu weakened - exit polls

By Jeffrey Heller

 

2019-09-17T084720Z_1_LYNXMPEF8G0LL_RTROPTP_4_ISRAEL-ELECTION-NETANYAHU-VOTES.JPG

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin and his wife Sara casts their votes during Israel's parliamentary election at a polling station in Jerusalem September 17, 2019. Heidi Levine/Pool via REUTERS

 

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's battle for political survival looked set to stretch on after exit polls following Tuesday's election showed the race too close to call and Israel's longest-serving leader weakened.

 

The surveys by Israeli TV stations gave Netanyahu's right-wing Likud 31 to 33 of parliament's 120 seats, versus 32 to 34 for centrist Blue and White led by former General Benny Gantz.

 

Neither had enough support, at first glance, for a governing coalition of 61 legislators, and Netanyahu's ally-turned-rival, former Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman, emerged as a likely kingmaker as head of the far-right Yisrael Beitenu party.

 

"Netanyahu has lost, but Gantz hasn't won," said Udi Segal, a prominent Israeli television news anchor.

 

Without Yisrael Beitenu's projected eight to 10 seats, stalemate would ensue: Likud would have the support of only up to 57 legislators for a right-wing coalition, and Blue and White could enlist no more than 59 for a centre-left government.

 

"We have only one option - a national, liberal, broad government comprising Israel Beitenu, Likud and Blue and White," said Lieberman, whose projected tally was double the result in April.

 

Dubbed "King Bibi" by his supporters, Netanyahu, 69, had already been stung by his failure to form a government after an election on April.

 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces a battle for political survival in a closely fought election on Tuesday that could end his 10-year domination of national politics. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).

Opinion polls put former armed forces chief Benny Gantz's centrist Blue and White party neck-and-neck with Netanyahu's right-wing Likud, and suggest the far-right Yisrael Beiteinu party could emerge as kingmaker in coalition talks.

"(The election) is very close. I call on all citizens of Israel to come vote," Netanyahu said, his voice hoarse after weeks of campaigning, as he cast his vote in Jerusalem.

Gantz voted shortly afterwards in Rosh Haayin, near Tel Aviv, and wished everyone luck.

 

Looming corruption charges - he has denied any wrongdoing - have also chipped away at Netanyahu's seeming invincibility, 10 years into consecutive terms as prime minister marked by a sharp focus on security that resonated with voters.

 

"Unless that miraculous turnabout between the exit polls and the actual results happens - the Netanyahu magic has been broken," Anshel Pfeffer, author of a Netanyahu biography, wrote in the left-wing Haaretz daily.

 

Addressing supporters after the exit polls, Lieberman appealed to President Reuven Rivlin to invite Netanyahu and Gantz to meet as early as Friday, even before final results are in, to explore the formation of a national unity government.

 

Coalition-building could be complicated: Lieberman has said he would not join an alliance that included ultra-Orthodox parties - Netanyahu's traditional partners. Gantz has ruled out participating in an administration with Netanyahu, if the Israeli leader is indicted on looming corruption charges.

 

SLIGHT DIFFERENCES

The two main parties' campaigns pointed to only narrow differences on many important issues: the regional struggle against Iran, the Palestinian conflict, relations with the United States and the economy.

 

An end to the Netanyahu era would be unlikely to bring about a significant change in policy on hotly disputed issues in the peace process with the Palestinians that collapsed five years ago.

 

Netanyahu has announced his intention to annex the Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank, where the Palestinians seek statehood.

 

But Blue and White has also said it would strengthen Jewish settlement blocs in the West Bank, with the Jordan Valley as Israel's "eastern security border".

 

As in the election five months ago, Netanyahu's opponents, including Gantz, focussed on bribery and fraud allegations against the prime minister in three corruption cases. Netanyahu is due to face a pre-trial hearing in October to argue against the charges being filed.

 

An election loss could leave him more at risk of prosecution, without the shield of parliamentary immunity that his political allies had promised to seek for him.

 

There is no certainty they would stand by a weakened leader without an obvious public mandate in any coalition-building.

 

Netanyahu portrays Gantz, 60, as inexperienced and incapable of commanding respect from world leaders such as U.S. President Donald Trump.

 

Before the last election, Trump gave Netanyahu a lift with U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, captured from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war. This time, the White House seems more preoccupied with Iran.

 

The Trump administration plans soon to release an Israeli-Palestinian peace plan that may prove a dead letter: The Palestinians have rejected it in advance as biased.

 

Netanyahu's open door in Washington and other world capitals, at a combustible time on Israel's borders with Syria, Gaza and Lebanon, remains a big draw domestically.

 

In the final hours of campaigning, Netanyahu strained every sinew, urging voters to support him to avert what he described as the "disaster" of a left-wing government.

 

His voice hoarse, the veteran leader took to the streets and social media, at one point using a megaphone in Jerusalem's bus station, to appeal to voters to extend his unbroken decade in power.

 

"There's no one else running who is worthy of being prime minister," said Alon Gal, a 53-year-old hi-tech manager. "With (Netanyahu), at least I know who I am dealing with."

 

In Gaza, Palestinians awaited the results of the vote.

 

"This election affects many things in our life," said Mohamad Abdul Hay Hasaneen, a janitor in the city of Khan Younis. "There might be limited escalations after the election, but I don’t think this would result in a full war."

 

(Reporting by Jeffrey Heller, Dan Williams and Maayan Lubell and Stephen Farrell; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Peter Cooney)

 

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-- © Copyright Reuters 2019-09-18
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3 hours ago, webfact said:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin and his wife Sara casts their votes during Israel's parliamentary election at a polling station in Jerusalem

Wonder who they are voting for?

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1 hour ago, legend49 said:

Bye bye Benjamin, next up its Boris to go.

Exit polls in Israel are not very reliable. So who knows?

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2 hours ago, legend49 said:

Bye bye Benjamin, next up its Boris to go.

Hallelujah to that 👍

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King Bibi finished?

 

Don't count your Chanukah gelt until the zoftig bubbe kvells.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I am sure hoping they show this warmongering hater the door. The world would be a far, far better place without him. Bye, bye Bibi. Hopefully he will be subject to intense probes for the rest of his life, and will eventually be jailed for the massive corruption he and his wife have engaged in. 

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12 hours ago, spidermike007 said:

I am sure hoping they show this warmongering hater the door. The world would be a far, far better place without him. Bye, bye Bibi. Hopefully he will be subject to intense probes for the rest of his life, and will eventually be jailed for the massive corruption he and his wife have engaged in. 

What is the 'massive corruption' that you speak of ?

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4 minutes ago, Jingthing said:

I say not.

Sent from my Lenovo A7020a48 using Thailand Forum - Thaivisa mobile app
 

 

According to media reports, with over 90% of the votes checked, it's more like a draw with a slight advantage to Netanyahu. Still less than he hoped for, still short of allowing him a comfortable coalition (if at all).

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12 hours ago, Morch said:

 

Investigations involving Benjamin Netanyahu

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Investigations_involving_Benjamin_Netanyahu

 

This was discussed on multiple topics. I don't believe you're not aware of it.

Those seem like accussations of minor irregularitys though , rather than proven 'massive corruption' though

Edited by sanemax

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12 hours ago, Morch said:

 

No, they do no seem like "minor irregularities". You've either uninterested in details or trolling.

They seem like minor irregularities to me and they are only accusations .

Spidermike claimed that Ben Net had been involved in 'massive corruption' whereas in reality Ben Net has been accused of minor irregularities . What he has been accused of are regular things that happen in business and politics

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