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Israel election exit polls give Benjamin Netanyahu slight advantage over rival Benny Gantz

Israel election exit polls give Benjamin Netanyahu slight advantage over rival Benny Gantz

JERUSALEM (Rahnuma) : Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was on course to securing a record fifth term with another right-wing coalition, Israeli TV exit polls indicated after voting ended on Tuesday, as both he and his principal rival claimed victory

Netanyahu, in power consecutively since 2009, is fighting for his political survival. He faces possible indictment in three corruption cases, in which the right-wing Likud party leader has denied any wrongdoing.

If he wins, Netanyahu, 69, will become the longest-serving prime minister in Israel’s 71-year history this summer.

Exit polls on two of Israel’s three main TV channels showed that main challenger Benny Gantz’s Blue and White Party won slightly more seats that Likud in the 120-member parliament, while a third survey forecast a tie.

Though neither party captured a ruling majority in the Knesset, according to the exit polls, the surveys put Netanyahu in a stronger position to form a coalition government with the help of right-wing factions.

Some political analysts, however, cautioned it was too early to determine the outcome, with many hours to go before a final tally is in.

A local channel forecast Netanyahu could piece together a ruling bloc controlling 66 seats compared with 54 for a Blue and White-led coalition of centre-left and left-wing parties.

Public TV Kan put the ratio at 64 to 56 in Likud’s favour, while Channel 12 predicted a tie, at 60 seats each.

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