04:56 GMT04 June 2020
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    On Monday, Israeli citizens headed to the polls in what was the third election in less than a year after the ruling party led by Netanyahu failed to secure an outright majority in the Israeli Knesset or negotiate a broader coalition with the opposition in April and then in September.

    The right-wing Likud party is leading in the Israeli snap general election, according to exit polls published on Monday.

    The party is set to win 37 mandates, while the opposition Blue and White party of Benny Gantz will gain 33 seats, according to the exit poll of Israel's Channel 12. The Right bloc is gaining 60 seats, the Left bloc - 54, and the Joint Arab List is winning 15 seats, respectively. Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel is Our Home) is coming in fourth with 6 seats.

    Channel 13 has projected the Likud Party to win 37 seats and blue and white - 32, respectively. The exit poll of the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation shows that Likud has 36 mandates, while Blue and White has 33 seats.

    The Israeli justice minister also noted that defections from the Blue and White were possible. The finals results are to be released tomorrow.

    Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took to Twitter to comment on the exit polls tweeting "thanks" in Hebrew and then declaring a "huge victory" for Israel in the second tweet.

    Defence Minister Naftali Bennett also announced the Likud Party "has won the election" and said [they] would advise the president to mandate Netanyahu to form the government.

    Netanyahu is expected to give a speech on the election results at 11.45 pm local time, according to the spokesman for Likud.

    Benny Gantz also said thanks via Twitter to the citizens who voted for his party on Monday and vowed to continue to "struggle for the [right] path".

    The head of the Joint Arab List, Ayman Odeh, said that the projected number of mandates is an achievement for his party that would help them to "prevent Netanyahu from building the 61 bloc".

    Amir Perez, head of Labour-Gesher-Meretz, said his party "gave the backup wind to Gantz but their campaign hurt us all" and pledged to continue to "act as a responsible adult" and "not to point fingers" to blame anybody.

    As of 8 pm local time, the voter turnout stood at 65.6 percent - the highest since the 1999 parliamentary election.

    The most recent polls projected that Netanyahu was most likely to build a coalition with the Blue and White party.

    Israel has been in a political deadlock since Netanyahu's party won the poll but fell short of obtaining the majority needed to form a government in April. In the second election held in September, the Likud Party also failed to secure a majority in the Knesset.

    Tags:
    coalition, right-wing, parliament, Naftali Bennett, Benny Gantz, Benjamin Netanyahu, vote, Knesset, polls, Israel
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