Benjamin Netanyahu is likely to carry on to a fifth term in office and beat rival Benny Gantz in Israeli election, Israeli media reported Wednesday morning, citing latest results.
The victory, despite corruption allegations against the 69-year-old premier, puts him on a path to become Israel’s longest-serving prime minister later this year.
His Likud party looked set to finish with a similar number of seats in parliament to his main rival, ex-military chief Benny Gantz’s centrist Blue and White alliance.
But with 97 percent of the vote counted, results showed Likud and other rightwing parties allied to him with some 65 seats in the 120-seat parliament, media reports said.
The close race between the two main parties had led to uncertainty after polls closed on Tuesday night and exit surveys were released.
Both Netanyahu and Gantz claimed victory after the initial exit surveys that gave Blue and White the most seats.
But even then Netanyahu appeared best placed to form a coalition, with both parties in any case falling far short of an outright majority.
Netanyahu spoke in the early hours of Wednesday at Likud’s post-election party in Tel Aviv and called it a “magnificent victory.”
“It will be a rightwing government, but I will be prime minister for all,” he said.
Earlier while addressing cheering supporters who waived Israeli flags at an event hall in Tel Aviv, Gantz called it an “historic day.”
“The president must give us the task of forming the next government since we are the biggest party,” he said after initial exit polls.