After two prior elections in the past year which ended in deadlock, exit poll projections are that the Likud Party, led by Benjamin Netanhayu, will have the most seats in the Knesset and will be able to put together a majority coalition.

In Israeli elections, it is not winner take all. The “winner” is the party that is able to put together a coalition of 61 seats in the 120-seat Knesset. Coalition building is the key. In the two prior elections in the past year, Likud had the most seats, but could not put together a majority coalition.

In the election today, Likud is projected to have a big win. While these are based on election exit polls and could change, no one in Israel seems to doubt the result.

The Jerusalem Post reports:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu succeeded in winning 60 seats for his bloc of right-wing and religious parties in Monday’s election, one less than he needed for a majority in the Knesset, according to exit polls on the three television networks.

The polls indicated that Netanyahu’s Likud won 36-37 seats. Its allies in Shas, UTJ and Yamina won 9, 7-8 and 6-7 respectively. The polls showed Blue and White with 33 seats, its ally Labor-Gesher-Meretz 6-7, the Joint List 14-15 and Yisrael Beytenu 6-8.

While Netanyahu may end up at 60 seats, he is likely to pick up more for his coalition after the results are announced … but theres no guarantees. The Times of Israel reports:

Justice Minister Amir Ohana, speaking to the Kan public broadcaster, said Likud “has a few options” to win over defecting lawmakers from across the aisle to round out its majority, and indicated he expects some Blue and White lawmakers to jump ship.

“I won’t name names,” he said, but expressed confidence there won’t be a fourth round of elections. “The public has spoken in a very clear way,” Ohana added.

“The people had its say,” Likud’s Nir Barkat echoed to Channel 12. “Now all the parties need to unite and help us form a coalition to deal with the nation’s challenges. We need a budget, we have a deficit. We can’t go to a fourth election. Stop dealing with yesterday, we have to deal with the country’s problems.”

Netanyahu, he said, “will try to form a coalition as broad as possible.”

Blue and White’s no. 5, MK Avi Nissenkorn, admitted the centrist faction was “disappointed,” but told Channel 13 that “Netanyahu still doesn’t have a coalition. We’ll wait for final results.”

Blue and White MK Meir Cohen agreed the results were “disappointing,” but urged pundits to “wait for final results. And I don’t believe there will be defectors. We say clearly, we won’t sit with Netanyahu.”

Netanyahu tweeted “Thank You” and that it was a “huge victory for Israel”:

His supporters went wild.

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UPDATE 3-3-2020 noon:

Is Bibi short one seat? Will there be another failure to build a coalition even though he’s *this* close? It will await final vote tallies, including from soldiers, but here are the latest numbers from the Jerusalem Post:

According to preliminary results from some 90% of the regular polling stations, the parties would receive the following number of seats, pending vote sharing agreements and application of the Bader-Ofer surplus vote allocation system:

Likud: 36 (1,206,692 votes, 29.35%)
Blue and White: 32 (1,082,970 votes, 26.34%)
The Joint List: 15 (530,978 votes, 12.91%)
Shas: 10 (320,246 votes, 7.79%)
UTJ: 7 (254,945 votes, 6.20%)
Yisrael Beytenu: 7 (241,322 votes, 5.87%)
Labor-Gesher-Meretz: 7 (234,933 votes, 5.71%)
Yamina: 6 (207,737 votes, 5.05%)

The Right-religious bloc has 59 seats (Likud, Shas, UTJ and Yamina)

The Center-Left bloc has 39 seats (Blue and White and Labor-Gesher-Meretz)
The Joint List has 15 seats
Yisrael Beytenu has 7 seats


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