Israel’s Netanyahu appears to suffer setback in exit polls
JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fell short of securing a parliamentary majority with his religious and nationalist allies in national elections Tuesday, initial exit polls showed, setting the stage for a period of coalition negotiations that could threaten his political future and clear the way for him to be tried on corruption charges.
Initial results posted by Israel’s three major stations showed challenger Benny Gantz’s centrist Blue and White party with a slight lead over Netanyahu’s Likud. While the results do not guarantee that Gantz will be the next prime minister, they signaled that Netanyahu, who has led the country for over 10 years, could have real trouble holding on to the job.
Israeli exit polls are often imprecise, and final results, expected today, could still swing in Netanyahu’s favor. But all three stations predicted a similar outcome.
According to those polls, neither Likud nor Blue and White, with their smaller respective allies, could control a majority in the 120-seat parliament without the support of Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu party. That put Lieberman, a former protege of Netanyahu’s who has become one of the prime minister’s fiercest rivals, in the position of kingmaker.