Israel Central Election Committee this morning published what it said were the “almost final” results from Tuesday’s election, revealing that Benny Gantz’s centrist Blue and White party is two seats ahead of Prime Minister Benjamin Netahyahu’s Likud – 33 to 31.
The committee said that 99.8% of the votes had been tallied, with the exception of those from 14 polling booths where irregular activities had been recorded on election day, which were still being investigated.
The Joint List alliance of Arab-majority parties came third with 13 seats, followed by ultra-Orthodox parties Shas with nine and United Torah Judaism with eight. Avigdor Liberman’s secular nationalist Yisrael Beytenu also had eight seats.
The right-wing Yamina is revealed to have seven seats, and left-wing Labor-Gesher and the Democratic Camp with six and five respectively.
The results also show that Blue and White received 23,0000 more votes this election than in April, and that Likud got 30,000 fewer votes even though it had absorbed the centre-right Kulanu party. Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu almost doubled their vote from last time.
Benjamin Netanyahu’s calls yesterday for national unity talks with Benny Gantz were rebuffed by the Blue and White leader, who declared victory and said his party would “not be dictated to”.
Yisrael Beytenu party leader Avigdor Lieeberman today denied that he has an agreement with Blue and White, saying his party would be fine either joining a coalition or sitting in opposition. Lieberman has repeatedly called for a unity government that only includes Likud, Blue and White and his own party.
Weeks of negotiations are expected, with no clear end to the deadlock that has emerged. Read more analysis here.