Exit polls show Netanyahu poised for comeback as his bloc scores 61 seats

Highest turnout since 1999 appears to have worked in favor of Likud leader as he appears to be the one to have the right to form government; all three exit polls predict center-left losing major ground; Ben-Gvir's party in record achievement

Ynet|Updated:
Voting in Israel's Election Day ended at 10pm Tuesday with the three main television exit polls predicting a narrow victory for opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu's conservative bloc.
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  • According to the public broadcaster KAN, Netanyahu's Likud has won 30 seats to Prime Minister Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid 22 seats. Channel 12 (Keshet) had Likud on 31 seats and Yesh Atid on 24. According to Channel 13, Likud will win 31 seats and Yesh Atid 24 seats.
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    (Photo: Eli Mandelbaum, Shaul Golan, Yair Sagi, Amit Shabi, Yoav Dudkevitch, EPA, Dana Kopel, Alex Kolomoisky)
    As for who will get to form the next government, KAN predicts that Netanyahu's right-wing bloc will secure 62 seats in the 120-member parliament, while the center-left bloc will muster 54. Channel 13 says that the center-left will take 62 seats and the right-wing bloc 54. Channel 12 predicts the center-left with 61 seats and the right with 55.
    If the final results give Netanyahu a parliamentary majority and see him return to the levers of power, this would allow his far-right allies Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben Gvir to push for an overhaul of the judiciary, which may affect the Likud chairman's corruption trial.
    Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing and claims that the charges against him are "trumped up" and are part of a witch hunt against him and his family.
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    מטה עוצמה יהודית
    מטה עוצמה יהודית
    Religious Zionist Party HQ after the exit polls
    (Photo: Amit Shaabi)
    Official results were expected to come in throughout the night, with Lapid's Yesh Atid already saying the "results of the polls will change by the morning."
    "It's not certain at all the Netanyahu will form the next government. Nonetheless, we will not sit with him in it."
    Lapid, whose camp was poised to take 54-55 seats, according to the polls, had campaigned on his stewardship of Israel's strong economy as well as diplomatic advances with countries including Lebanon and Turkey but it was not enough to stop the right.
    Israel's fifth election in less than four years exasperated many voters but turnout was nonetheless reported at the highest levels since 1999.
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    מטה הליכוד
    מטה הליכוד
    Likud HQ after the exit polls
    (Photo: Alex Kolomoisky)
    The campaign was shaken up by far-right firebrand Ben-Gvir and his ultra-nationalist Religious Zionism list, now poised to be the third-largest party in parliament after surging in from the political margins.
    Ben-Gvir in a speech following the exit polls attempted to calm his naysayers by claiming his faction will represent in the Knesset even the sectors who voted "for parties far removed from us."
    Smotrich, the party's co-chair, wrote on Twitter that his faction has "made history with this accomplishment - the most significant of a national religious party since the establishment of the state."
    "Now we wait patiently for the results so that we can securely establish a nationalist right-wing, Jewish, and Zionist government."
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    מטה עוצמה יהודית
    מטה עוצמה יהודית
    Religious Zionist Party HQ after the exit polls
    (Photo: Reuters)
    Netanyahu, 73, has been counting on support from Ben-Gvir and Smotrich, who have moderated some extreme positions but still call for anyone deemed disloyal to Israel to be expelled from the country.
    The former premier himself remained cautious after the exit poll result, calling it "a good start."
    "Exit polls are not the real count number one and second count the real count has to be the real count not the fake count," Netanyahu said in a video that was broadcast by Israel's public broadcaster KAN.
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    מטה הליכוד
    מטה הליכוד
    Likud HQ after the exit polls
    (Photo: AFP)
    Aryeh Deri, whose ultra-Orthodox Shas party was projected to secure 10 Knesset seats, also celebrated. "Shas has secured a great achievement and will soon be back leading the country," he said.
    "We will work with all our might for the working class, to strengthen Israel's Jewish identity and to fight the cost of living. Shas has proven once more that it is a strong party, with deep roots all over the country, and I pledge that we will continue to work hard for the sake of the entire people of Israel."
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    מטה מרצ
    מטה מרצ
    Meretz party HQ
    (Photo: Kobi Koankas)
    Mansour Abbas, whose Ra'am party according to the exit polls won 4-5 seats, said that "we once again proved that the Arab public believes in our way, wants us to continue representing them at all costs."
    He added that he hopes "not to see" Ben-Gvir and Smotrich in the next government.

    Full exit poll results

    KAN
    Likud - 30
    Yesh Atid - 22
    Religious Zionist Party - 15
    National Unity Party - 13
    Shas - 10
    United Torah Judaism - 7
    Labor - 5
    Meretz - 5
    Ra'am - 5
    Yisrael Beytenu - 5
    Hadash Tal - 4
    Channel 12
    Likud - 30
    Yesh Atid - 24
    Religious Zionist Party - 14
    National Unity Party - 11
    Shas - 10
    United Torah Judaism - 7
    Labor - 6
    Meretz - 5
    Ra'am - 5
    Hadash Tal - 4
    Yisrael Beytenu - 4
    Channel 13
    Likud - 31
    Yesh Atid - 24
    Religious Zionist Party - 14
    National Unity Party - 12
    Shas - 10
    United Torah Judaism - 7
    Labor - 5
    Ra'am - 5
    Meretz - 4
    Hadash Tal - 4
    Yisrael Beytenu - 4

    Reuters contributed to this report
    First published: 22:04, 11.01.22
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