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Israeli election exit polls give Netanyahu the advantage

An ultra-Orthodox Jewish stands behind a voting booth as Israelis vote in a parliamentary election, at a polling station in Jerusalem April 9, 2019. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was on course to secure a right-wing governing coalition, according to Israeli TV exit polls broadcast after voting ended on Tuesday. Both he and his main rival Benny Gantz claimed victory after the polls showed that Gantz’s centrist Blue and White Party and Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud had won about the same number of seats in the 120-member parliament.

But with neither party capturing a ruling majority in the Knesset, the polls, on the country’s main TV channels, put Netanyahu in a stronger position to form a government with the help of right-wing factions.

Netanyahu, in power consecutively since 2009 after a first term from 1996 to 1999, is fighting for his political survival. He faces possible indictment in three corruption cases in which the right-wing leader has denied any wrongdoing.

If he wins, Netanyahu, 69, will achieve a record fifth term and become Israel’s longest-serving prime minister this summer.

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