Gantz, with 99.9% of vote counted: ‘Someone here celebrated too soon’

As the final votes are tallied, the right-wing bloc does not appear to have won as great a victory as thought. 

By David Isaac, World Israel News

With 99.9% of the vote counted, the right-wing bloc has slipped to 58 Knesset seats, two less than predicted by exit polls on election night Monday.

On Monday evening, Netanyahu called it “the biggest win of my life,” adding “The victory is even sweeter, because it was against all odds,” he said. At that point, the right-wing bloc was predicted to gain 60 seats, one short of a majority.

Exit polls showed Likud winning 37 seats to Blue and White’s 32.

However, what had appeared to be a rout no longer looks like one. Likud is now at 36 seats and to Blue and White’s 33. While still a clear victory, it’s no longer a blowout.

Now short of the necessary 61-seat Knesset majority by three seats, it will be much harder for Netanyahu to form a government, making the possibility of a fourth election more likely.

Blue and White leader Benny Gantz tweeted on Wednesday night, “Someone here celebrated too early.”

The current results include all the ballot stations except for 20 that will re-examined. (The reasons are not connected to fraud, Yediot Ahronot reported.) The total number of votes still uncounted is 10,000, equivalent to a third or a quarter of a mandate, or Knesset seat – meaning a change to the current standings is unlikely.

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The count was expected to be completed on Wednesday night but the workers at election headquarters were exhausted – “falling asleep on their feet” according to one source, reports Israel Hayom on Thursday.

The count is expected to be completed next Monday. The official tally will be presented to President Reuven Rivlin on Tuesday.

Currently, the numbers for the smaller parties on the right are Shas (9), United Torah Judaism (7), Yemina (6).

The opposition parties are Labor-Gesher-Meretz (7) and the Arab Joint List (15).

The Israel Beiteinu party led by Avigdor Liberman, which had been a reliable partner of the right-wing until last April (the first of three back-to-back elections) garnered seven Knesset seats.

It’s not clear what Liberman plans to do but he has opposed Netanyahu continuing as prime minister while under indictment in three corruption cases.