Benjamin Netanyahu defeats Benny Gantz with striking 60-seat bloc


It is expected that after the third election in one year, this time the prime minister will succeed in forming a government.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu succeeded in winning 60 seats for his bloc of right-wing and religious parties, one less than he needed for a majority in the Knesset in Monday’s election, according to exit polls on the three television networks.
Exit polls published by Channel 12 predict that the Likud Party stands at 37 seats while Blue and White is on 33 seats. The Joint List, according to the poll, has 14 seats. A total of 9 seats are predicted for Shas and 7 for UTJ, while another 7 seats are for Yamina. Otzma Yehudit will not pass the threshold. Labor-Gesher-Meretz are predicted to receive 7 seats, meaning the right-wing bloc stands at 60 seats altogether whilst the center-left stands at 40, with Yisrael Beytenu on 6.
According to the initial Channel 13 exit polls, the Likud is on 37 seats and Blue and White is on 32. The Joint List is expected to receive 14 seats while Shas should have 9 seats and UTJ are predicted to receive 8. Yisrael Beitenu is expected to get 8 seats. Yamina is expected to get 6 seats and Labor-Gesher-Meretz will get 6. Otzma Yehudit are expected not to pass the threshold with 0 seats. This would determine that the right-wing bloc receives 60 seats while the center-left receives 52.
Netanyahu immediately tweeted "thank you." 
The outright victory in Israel’s third election in under a year is expected to enable Netanyahu to quickly form a right-wing coalition after heading a caretaker government since December 2018. The prime minister said said that he already spoke with heads of the right-wing parties and agreed to form a strong national government as soon as possible and they will meet Tuesday morning.
Sources in Likud said he would even try to get a government in place before his criminal trial begins on March 17.
The high turnout in Israel's unprecedented third election in under a year showed no signs of voter apathy, as Israelis cast ballots in an attempt to end the political stalemate.
The voter turnout at 8p.m. was 65.6%, compared to 63.7% in the September election and the highest turnout rate at this hour since the 1999 election.

Final turnout was expected to pass 70%, up from 68.46% in April and 69.83% in September. There were more than 200,000 voters who cast ballots on Monday who had not voted in September.
 
The turnout was even higher among the 5,630 Israelis quarantined due to exposure to the coronavirus, among whom 4076 voted in special polling stations despite long lines.
Earlier Monday, both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz expressed concern about what they claimed was lower turnout in areas where their parties had done well in recent elections. 
Gantz and his number two, Yair Lapid, went to the streets of Tel Aviv with megaphones begging people to vote, and MKs Gabi Ashkenazi and Moshe Ya'alon were sent to other Blue and White strongholds. Blue and White sources said turnout in Tel Aviv was ridiculously low, well behind the rest of the country. 
Netanyahu went to Ma'ale Adumim and complained about low turnout in Judea and Samaria and southern development towns. He went on Facebook Live all day, urging Likud supporters to vote. The Likud complained that the press had made it look like the Likud was well ahead, discouraging Likud supporters from voting in the final hours.

There were complaints all day to the Central Elections Committee about forgeries and hidden ballots. Blue and White complained that the Likud campaign had doctored a video of Gantz.
In the original video, Gantz warned Blue and White supporters "If you don’t put Blue and White in the ballot box, there will be a fourth election." The doctored version had him only saying "Don’t put Blue and White in the ballot box." 
The head of the Central Elections Committee, Supreme Court Judge Neal Hendel forced Likud to removed the video from its Facebook and Instagram pages and to pay Blue and White NIS 7,500. 

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