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Netanyahu declares victory

Wed 18 Mar 2015
Tel Aviv, March 18, 2015 (IANS) Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared victory after the first exit polls released following Tuesday's elections showed the Likud ahead of, or tied with, the Zionist Union.

Netanyahu wrote on his Facebook page: "Against all odds, a great victory for the Likud, for the nationalist camp led by the Likud, and for the people of Israel," Jpost reported.

The numbers for Netanyahu's Likud were better than expected after pre-election polls had showed him trailing Isaac Herzog's Zionist Union by as much as five mandates. The Zionist Union rejected conjecture that the results of the exit polls show that Netanyahu will form the next coalition.
"The Likud continues to err. The right-wing bloc has gotten smaller. 

Everything is open until the final results are in and we will know which parties passed the electoral threshold and what kind of government we can form. All of the spin and the commentary is too early.  We have formed a negotiating team with the goal of putting together a coalition led by Herzog."

Netanyahu had already begun the legwork of forming a coalition, speaking by phone with Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett, Shas chief Arye Deri, and Moshe Gafni of United Torah Judaism.

Bennett congratulated Netanyahu for his "victory," and the two mutually agreed to begin negotiations for the formation of  a nationalistic coalition government that would work to "better the security and well-being of the Israeli people." Kulanu leader Moshe Kahlon spoke on the telephone with Netanyahu as well as with Herzog.

Kahlon told both leaders that he would decide with whom his party would align depending on official ballot results. 


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