Israeli Elections: Netanyahu Looks Poised to Return to the Helm | CNS News

Bibi Netanyahu

Bibi Netanyahu

( – Any hopes by his detractors that Israeli voters would give Binyamin Netanyahu marching orders after nine years at the helm looked set to be dashed on Tuesday night, as exit polls pointed to the strong likelihood that he will serve a fourth term as prime minister, possibly as head of a national unity government.

Confounding earlier opinion polls that showed a slim lead for the center-left “Zionist Union” bloc led by Labor leader Isaac Herzog, exit polls by Israel’s major television networks put the two neck-and-neck – 27 seats each – and in one case gave the Likud a one-seat advantage, 28-27.

A major party needs to form a coalition of more than 60 seats in the 120-member Knesset to govern, and pundits and party officials rushed to analyze the exit poll figures for a range of minor parties, mulling the various coalition-building options open to Netanyahu and Herzog.

Israeli media quoted a source close to President Reuven Rivlin, whose role is largely ceremonial but includes assenting to the early dissolution of parliament, as saying he interprets the interim results as indicating that Netanyahu would have the ability to form a coalition quickly, and that he, Rivlin, would favor a strong national unity government.

The incumbent was confident he would be successful.

“Against all odds, a great victory for Likud, a great victory for the nationalist camp headed by Likud, a great victory for the nation of Israel,” Netanyahu said in a post on his Facebook page.

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