Benjamin Netanyahu poised for comeback in Israeli election, exit polls show



JERUSALEM: Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday he was “close” to reclaiming power and forming a right-wing government after projected election results showed a majority coalition was within reach for the veteran leader.
“We are close to a big victory,” Netanyahu told supporters at a rally in Jerusalem. “We don’t know the final results yet, but if the results are like the exit polls, I will form a national (right-wing) government.”
Israel’s longest-serving premier, on trial over corruption charges which he denies, was poised to take a narrow majority of 61 or 62 of the Knesset‘s 120 seats, according to Israeli television exit polls.
Israel’s fifth election in less than four years exasperated many voters, but turnout was reported at the highest levels since 2015.
The campaign was shaken up by firebrand West Bank settler Itamar 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.
“The time has come that we go back to being in charge of our country!” Ben-Gvir said in a speech punctuated by chants of “Death to Terrorists” from hundreds of cheering supporters.
Netanyahu’s record 12-year consecutive reign ended in June 2021 when centrist Yair Lapid and his coalition partner Naftali Bennett managed to stitch together an alliance that included an Arab party for the first time.
Security on the streets and soaring prices topped the list of voter concerns in a campaign triggered by defections from Prime Minister Lapid’s unlikely ruling coalition of right-wing, liberal and Arab parties.


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