Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at his residence in Jerusalem, Feb. 28, 2019. (Photo/JTA-Gali Tibbon-AFP via Getty Images)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at his residence in Jerusalem, Feb. 28, 2019. (Photo/JTA-Gali Tibbon-AFP via Getty Images)

Israeli election: Netanyahu leads exit polls

Polls closed in Israel at noon Pacific Standard Time, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has taken to Twitter to thank his supporters for bringing him victory.

The initial exit polls show Likud leading Blue and White by four or five seats. More to the point, however, is that the Likud-led religious-right bloc is at 60 seats, one short of the 61 needed to form a government.

Israel’s three major TV networks all put the Likud bloc at 60, the center-left bloc headed by Blue and White at 38 to 40 seats, the Arab parties at 14 to 15 seats, and Yisrael Beiteinu holding 6 to 8 seats.

It seems likely that Netanyahu will be asked to form a government, which he will only be able to do by poaching at least one person from another party’s list.

Voter turnout was the highest since 1999, despite this being Israel’s third national election within a year.

These are exit polls and not official election results, which are expected tomorrow morning, Israel time.

Sue Fishkoff

Sue Fishkoff is the editor of J. She can be reached at sue@jweekly.com.