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Netanyahu leads in election, but lacks majority


Reuters

Netanyahu leads in election, but  lacks majority

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JERUSALEM – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu led on Tuesday in Israel’s third national election in less than a year but was short of a governing majority, nearly complete results showed.

Netanyahu claimed victory in Monday’s vote over his main challenger, former armed forces chief Benny Gantz of the centrist Blue and White party, after exit polls projected the right-wing leader’s Likud party had come out on top.

“We turned lemons into lemonade,” he told a cheering crowd at Likud’s election headquarters as exit polls were released.

But Gantz stopped short of conceding defeat, saying the election could result in another deadlock and he understood and shared his supporters’ “feeling of disappointment and pain”.

With some 90 per cent of the votes counted, Netanyahu, who has the pledged support of right-wing and religious parties for a coalition government, appeared to control 59 seats in parliament, two short of a ruling majority.

The gap made former defense minister Avigdor Lieberman’s far-right Yisrael Beiteinu party a potential kingmaker after remaining on the sidelines in inconclusive ballots in April and September.

A win for Netanyahu, 70, would be testament to the political durability of Israel’s longest-serving leader, who fought the latest campaign under the shadow of a looming corruption trial.

(Reuters)

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