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With 97% of Israel Votes Counted, Netanyahu Almost Certain to Be Next PM as Likud, Religious Parties Gain

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With nearly 97 percent of Israel's vote counted, Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's bloc has 65 seats, beyond the majority of 61 needed to form a coalition. Although the ongoing vote count will change those numbers, it's almost certain Netanayhu will get the chance to form a government.

Exit poll results indicate that when the count is complete, Netanyahu likely will get the nod from President Isaac Herzog to form a governing coalition. Here's the breakdown:

  • Netanyahu's Likud party stands at 31 seats, followed by Prime Minister Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid Party with 24.
  • The Religious Zionists were a strong third with 14 seats; Benny Gantz's National Unity Party and the ultra-Orthodox Shas Party were tied at 12.   
  • If the numbers hold up, Netanyahu would have four more seats than he needs for a government.
  • Likud supporters celebrated in Jerusalem as Netanayhu told the cheering crowd early Wednesday that they were "on the cusp of a huge victory."


Israelis say the most important thing to them in these elections is to come out with a government that will be able to stay in power for its full term as well as protect the country.

“That we actually get a government, and we don't have to keep voting and voting, and we get people in there that actually do their job and do what they say,” one voter told CBN News.

“I hope it will be the last time. We need to stop to fight each other and to make the decision to be together,” said another voter.

Despite general fatigue in the nation from five elections in less than four years, by midday on Tuesday, Israeli voter turnout at the polls was the highest that it has been since 1999, media reports said.  Some 6,790,000 Israelis are eligible to vote this time, about 200,000 more than in the last election.

Israelis are casting their ballots for more than 35 political parties. About 10 of them will likely receive enough votes to claim seats in the upcoming 120-seat Knesset (parliament).

The leader of the party with the most seats is usually tasked with pulling together a coalition government with at least 61 seats. According to polls, former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party is expected to come out ahead.  But the question is whether he will be able to cobble together enough parties to have a majority.

CBN News visited a Jerusalem polling station early in the day and asked voters who they are voting for and what’s the most important issue for them.  Click above to hear what Israeli voters are saying.


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About The Author

Julie Stahl

Julie Stahl is a correspondent for CBN News in the Middle East. A Hebrew speaker, she has been covering news in Israel fulltime for more than 20 years. Julie’s life as a journalist has been intertwined with CBN – first as a graduate student in Journalism; then as a journalist with Middle East Television (METV) when it was owned by CBN from 1989-91; and now with the Middle East Bureau of CBN News in Jerusalem since 2009. As a correspondent for CBN News, Julie has covered Israel’s wars with Gaza, rocket attacks on Israeli communities, stories on the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria and