Benny Gantz’s Kahol Lavan is ahead of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party, according to official election results released on Wednesday after 97 percent of the vote was counted. The results show that neither of the parties have a clear path to securing a majority in Knesset.
With 97 percent of the votes counted, Kahol Lavan has won 33 out of 120 Knesset seats, with Likud behind with 31 seats. Netanyahu’s bloc, comprised of right-wing and ultra-Orthodox parties, currently stands at 55 seats. The center-left bloc has 57 seats.
Avigdor Lieberman, whose Yisrael Beiteinu party is projected to have eight seats, is expected to be the election’s kingmaker. On Wednesday morning, he reiterated his support for a “broad liberal unity government,” which would include Yisrael Beiteinu, Likud and Kahol Lavan.
The third largest party in the Knesset is the Joint List of Arab parties, with 13 seats. It is followed by ultra-Orthodox party Shas, which gets nine seats and United Torah Judaism, which gets eight seats. Ayelet Shaked’s Yamina gets seven seats, the results indicate, Labor-Gesher get six and Democratic Union get five seats.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday that despite his efforts to build a right wing government, “there is no choice but to form a broad unity government.”
“Benny, it is on us to form a broad unity government. Today. The nation expects us, both of us, to accept responsibility and work together,” Netanyahu said. “So I’m calling on you, Benny, let’s meet today, at any hour, to advance this process that is the mission of the hour. We cannot go to third elections, there’s no reason to – I oppose it,” Netanyahu said.
Netanyahu added that he had spoken to the right-wing leaders and they plan to enter the negotiations for the national unity government as a unified bloc, saying that the government should be “as wide as possible.”
With 97 percent of the vote counted, Kahol Lavan gained a seat, giving them 33 and placing them two seats ahead of Likud. Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu lost a seat, bringing its total down to eight. The center-left bloc now has 57 mandates and is leading the right-wing bloc by two seats.
Leader of Yamina, Ayelet Shaked, said Thursday morning that her party has not yet agreed to join a right-wing government headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “The prime minister has asked that we join the bloc, but we have to think about it,” Shaked told Kan Bet.
Netanyahu announced Wednesday that he had met with the leaders of the right-wing parties and begun negotiations to form a coalition. Netanyahu is expected to meet again with the party leaders at 9 A.M. on Thursday.