Gantz vs. Netanyahu: Both claim victory amid split exit polls
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz each declared that they won Tuesday's election after inconclusive exit polls were broadcast on the three Israeli networks.
Netanyahu claimed victory, because his Right-Center bloc won handily over Gantz's Center-Left bloc in polls broadcast on Channel 13 and KAN, 66 to 54 and 64 to 56, respectively. In Channel 12's poll, the blocs were even at 60 seats.
"The right-wing bloc led by Likud clearly won," Netanyahu said. "I thank Israeli citizens for their trust. I will begin forming a right-wing government with our natural partners already tonight."
Gantz announced that he won the race, because in the Channel 12 poll, Blue and White received 37 seats and Likud 33. In the KAN poll, the victory margin was 37 to 36. The Channel 13 poll found the two parties even at 36.
“We won!" Gantz and his number two Yair Lapid said in a joint statement. "The Israeli public has had their say! Thank you to the thousands of activists and over a million voters. These elections have a clear winner and a clear loser. Netanyahu promised 40 seats and lost. The president can see the picture and should call on the winner to form the next government. There is no other option!”
The surprise of the election ended up being that former Likud MK Moshe Feiglin's Zehut party did not cross the 3.25% threshold, according to the exit polls. But party officials said their supporters did not cooperate with the exit polls and the results in the ballot box would be very different.
Former defense minister Avigdor Liberman's Yisrael Beytenu and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon's Kulanu crossed the threshold, while MK Orly Levy-Abecassis's Gesher did not.
The polls were inconclusive on the fate of the New Right of Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, which did not cross the threshold, according to the Channel 12 and KAN polls but narrowly did, according to Channel 13.
All the polls showed that former Jerusalem Post columnist Caroline Glick, who was sixth on the list, apparently will not become an MK.
One of the stories of the election was apparently low turnout in the Arab sector. Hadash-Ta'al won six to seven seats in the polls. United Arab List-Balad did not cross the threshold in two of them.