TEL AVIV – The right-wing Likud Party In a last-minute turn of events has surged ahead of the center-left Zionist Union for control of Israel’s parliament, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claiming victory just before final results are announced.
“Against all odds:a [sic] great victory for the Likud,” Netanyahu tweeted Tuesday night, less than one hour after ballot boxes closed. “A major victory for the people of Israel!”
Despite the prime minister’s declaration, the ultimate outcome of the Israeli election remains up in the air. Netanyahu and his chief rival, Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog, are both far short of a 61-seat majority. That means Netanyahu, even if he emerges with the lead, will have to stitch together another majority coalition of smaller parties to retain his role as prime minister. A critical swing vote could be former Likud politician Moshe Kahlon’s new Kulanu party, which has yet to make clear where it stands.