After 97% of the votes are counted, Netanyahu gets 36 seats

The Israeli Central Elections Committee announced today (Tuesday) that the Likud party, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, won 36 seats in the Israeli Knesset, to become the largest Israeli party again.

The Central Election Commission said in a statement that 97% of the votes were counted, and Benny Gantz's Blue and White party won 32 seats.

The Likud party and its right-wing allies won 59 seats, according to the latest census, which means that Netanyahu did not get the two seats necessary to form a government coalition by a majority in the 120-seat parliament.

Netanyahu had already announced his victory late yesterday (Monday), after opinion polls indicated that his right-wing party had a steady majority in blue and white.

In the absence of just two seats to secure another term for the longest-serving prime minister in Israel, the Likud launched efforts to persuade lawmakers in the parties of the center-left bloc to independently join a right-wing led by Likud and form a coalition.

"There are talks with many lawmakers with parties from the other political bloc, they understand that Gantz cannot form a government," Likud spokesman Jonathan Yorick told Channel 13 news.

Yorik explained that the Likud is expected to succeed in forming a new coalition, in order to secure a majority in the Knesset seats and be able to form the Israeli government.

For his part, Benny Gantz did not admit losing to Netanyahu in the third elections, pledging to move forward to prevent Netanyahu from forming an Israeli government.

In comments this morning, Gantz called on his supporters to wait for the final results.

Netanyahu faces a criminal trial, due to begin on March 17, with three counts of bribery, fraud and breach of trust.

Israeli politicians believe that if Netanyahu succeeds in forming a new government, he will be the first ruling prime minister under a criminal trial in the history of Israel.


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