(ALJAZEERA) – Israel’s incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is on course for a record fifth term, election results show.
Netanyahu has an advantage as nearly all right-wing parties have declared their support for him, Israeli media reported.
The Likud party, with the help of other right-wing parties, are likely to muster enough support to get a majority in the 120-seat parliament, known as the Knesset.
“It is a night of colossal victory,” Netanyahu, 69, told supporters at Likud headquarters.
The Likud party and the centrist Blue and White party – led by Netanyahu’s main rival Benny Gantz – tied at 97 percent of votes counted. The two main parties won 35 seats apiece.
It is a night of colossal victory
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PM
Likud, which gained five seats compared with the 2015 elections, needs 61 seats to form the government.
Netanyahu and his main challenger Gantz were quick to claim victory in the elections.
“The skies may look overcast … but they cannot conceal the sun of hope that we have brought to the Israeli people and society,” Gantz, 59, wrote in an open letter.
United Torah Judaism, Shas, Yisrael Beiteinu, Union of Right-Wing Parties and Kulanu are parties from the right-wing bloc that have passed the 3.25 percent threshold to enter Knesset, obtaining 30 seats combined.
This places the right-wing bloc in a 10-seat lead over the left.
In the centre-left bloc, Labor, Meretz and the Arab parties of Hadash-Ta’al and Balad-Ra’am obtained 20 seats.
Despite a low voter turnout among Israeli Palestinians, the Arab lists of Hadash-Ta’al and Balad-Ra’am passed the threshold gaining six and four seats respectively.
However, their total of 10 Knesset seats is lower than in the 2015 elections, when the Arab joint list won 13, making them the third-largest faction in the 20th Knesset.
An hour before voting closed, Israeli Palestinian turnout was at 46 percent, well below the 61 percent turnout nationwide. Palestinian turnout in the 2015 election was 63 percent.
The New Right, Zehut and Gesher parties did not pass the threshold.