Netanyahu’s Likud party trails Blue and White lead by Benny Gantz by one seat, with 90% of the votes counted.
By World Israel News Staff
Likud and Blue & White are neck and neck with Netanyahu’s Likud now trailing by a single seat, 32-31, according to unofficial results comprising 92 percent of the vote.
The results for the smaller parties are: Arab Joint List (13), Shas (9), Israel Beiteinu (9), United Torah Judaism (8), Yemina (7), Labor-Gesher (6), the Democratic Union (5).
Otzma Yehudit (or, “Jewish Strength”) party did not pass the electoral threshold, despite the fact that polls showed the far-right party would succeed in making it into the Knesset.
The above, unofficial numbers give the center-left bloc 56 seats and the right-wing bloc 55 seats.
However, the center-left’s 56 includes the Arab Joint List. Prime Minister Netanyahu made much of this fact during his speech in Tel Aviv at around 3:00 a.m. on Wednesday morning to a crowd of die-hard Likud supporters.
“There will not be and cannot be a government that relies on anti-Zionist Arab parties that deny the very existence of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state,” he said. “Parties that glorify and praise the bloodthirsty terrorists who murder our soldiers, our citizens.”
“I spoke this evening with all the Likud’s partners in the right-wing camp. All of them expressed an unequivocal commitment to banding together,” he added.
“In the coming days, we will enter into negotiations to establish a strong Zionist government and to prevent a dangerous anti-Zionist government,” the prime minister said.
Israeli governments have historically avoided relying on Arab parties. Arab parties, too, have avoided joining Israeli governments due to their extreme anti-Israel positions.
In a surprise move during the campaign, Ayman Odeh, leader of the Joint List, offered to sit with Blue and White.
Blue and White leader Benny Gantz rejected the possibility, saying.“We will sit only with people that recognize the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. It seems to me that there are elements in the Arab parties that have difficulty with this.”