Israeli PM Netanyahu's election rival concedes defeat

Israeli PM Netanyahu's election rival concedes defeat

Israeli PM Netanyahu's election rival concedes defeat

With almost all votes in Israel's general election counted, here is the preliminary distribution of seats in Israel's 120-seat parliament, according to Israeli media calculations.

With 97% percent of the votes accounted for both Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party and Benny Gantz's Blue and White party received 35 seats apiece.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures after he speaks following the announcement of exit polls in Israel's parliamentary election at the party headquarters in Tel Aviv, Israel April 10, 2019.

The Gesher, Zehut and far-right Hayamin Hehadash (New Right) parties did not reach the threshold of 3.25 percent to get a seat at the Knesset, early exit polls showed.

Matthews said Trump's apparent intervention in Israeli elections was unprecedented, but did not mention how President Obama's State Department gave grant money to OneVoice, an Israeli political group and opponent of Netanyahu.

Voting in Tel Aviv, businessman Dedi Cohen, 44, said he supported Mr Gantz.

Netanyahu and his main rival, a former military chief of staff, both declared victory shortly after the polls closed. I thank the citizens of Israel for the vote of confidence.

Netanyahu may have a win on his hands, but he now has to form a coalition government.

Netanyahu denies wrongdoing in all three cases and has the opportunity to convince the attorney general not to charge him in a pre-trial hearing, which is expected in July. "We have a reason to be proud", Gantz wrote.

Final results are expected by Friday, but partial results are published by the Knesset as the vote-counting proceeds, so a clearer picture will begin to emerge before the final tally.

A close result in the election would put smaller parties in a powerful position, turning marginal political figures into kingmakers.

- The 59-year-old Gantz touts his military service and accuses Netanyahu of being corrupt and sowing division, but the two hold similar views on security issues and Israel's approach to the Palestinians.

"The coalition, it's not clear yet, because we need to see who are the parties that are in the game". "I intend to finish the work quickly, with the aim of forming a stable national government".

Palestinians are already concerned about one of the last-minute campaign promises Netanyahu made to annex West Bank settlements - extending Israeli sovereignty onto land most of the world considers "occupied territory". But the same polls suggested that Netanyahu's route to building a successful coalition would be more straightforward, due to the large number of other right-wing parties projected to win seats. Netanyahu's campaign against Arab politicians, together with the new alliance with anti-Arab extremists and the passage of last year's contentious nation-state law, which enshrined Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people alone, have deepened calls for a ballot boycott in Arab communities. KAN TV reported Gantz's alliance had won 37 seats to 36 for Netanyahu's Likud while other television channels said the two were tied.

How do Israeli elections work?

2020 presidential hopeful Beto O'Rourke called Netanyahu a "racist" who has sided with a "far-right racist party" on Sunday. "They asked for a different path, and we showed them the way". "Netanyahu's Likud party provided activists with 1,200 hidden cameras "to monitor" Arab polling stations - a move that prompted Israel's Central Elections Committee to file a police complaint".

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