No clear winner in Israeli elections but Netanyahu claims victory

Wednesday, March 24

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara voting in the election on March 23, 2021. (Photo by RONEN ZVULUN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

There was no clear winner in Israel’s parliamentary elections on Tuesday, leaving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with an uncertain future.

Exit polls showed that both Netanyahu’s traditional bloc of right-wing and religious parties and his opponents came up short of the 61 seats needed to form a governing majority in the 120-member parliament, known as the Knesset.

By early Wednesday, updated exit polls on two of Israel’s three main TV stations projected an evenly divided parliament.

A third station gave Netanyahu’s opponents a one-seat advantage.

The virtual deadlock raises the possibility of lengthy coalition-building talks or even another election, which would be the fifth in the country in the past two years.

Despite the inconclusive results, Netanyahu, 71, claimed his Likud party had won a “great victory” with fellow right-wing parties.

“It is clear that a clear majority of Israeli citizens are right wing, and they want a strong and stable right wing government that will protect the economy of Israel, security of Israel and land of Israel. This is what we will do,” he said on Facebook.

Exit polls have often been imprecise and the final results are not expected for several days.

Newsday and Agencies