Benny Gantz, the centrist party chief and main challenger to Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday said it appeared from exit polls that the Israeli Prime Minister has been defeated.
Gantz , the Blue and White party leader who stated this while speaking at the party’s headquarters following the announcement of exit polls during Israel’s parliamentary election in Tel Aviv however added that only the results of the polls could tell the final outcome.
Beaming with confidence, Gantz told his party members that it ‘appeared they had fulfilled their mission’, pledging to work towards the formation of a national unity government.
The 60-year-old Gantz further stressed that Netanyahu apparently did not succeed in his mission to win a fifth term in the election which followed an inconclusive national ballot in April.
Netanyahu, head of the right-wing Likud party and Israel’s longest-serving leader is due to deliver a ‘brief but important’ address at its election headquarters at around 3 am.
Revised surveys several hours after the polls which were conducted by Israeli TV stations gave Likud 30 to 33 of parliament’s 120 seats, a slight drop from earlier forecasts as against 32 to 34 for the Blue and White party.
At first glance, neither of both parties had enough support 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.
Addressing supporters after the exit polls, Lieberman appealed to President Reuven Rivlin to invite Netanyahu and Gantz to meet even before final results were collated to explore the formation of a national unity government.
The revised polls showed that without Beitenu’s projected eight to nine seats, a stalemate could ensue and Likud would have the support of only up to 55 legislators required for a right-wing coalition.
Blue and White could enlist the backing of no more than 59 parliamentarians for the formation of a centre-left government.