Netanyahu claims victory in Israeli elections in fourth election in two years

People pass an election campaign billboard for the Likud party that shows a portrait of its leader Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in Ramat Gan, Israel, Sunday, March 21, 2021. Israelis head to the polls on Tuesday for what will be the fourth parliamentary election in just two years. Once again, the race boils down to a referendum on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has claimed victory in the country’s fourth elections in two years.

The announcement came fewer than two hours after exit polls on Israel’s main three TV channels indicated no immediate winner in the unprecedented elections amid a prolonged political deadlock.

“A huge victory to the right-wing and the Likud (party) under my leadership,” Netanyahu wrote on Twitter on Tuesday night, Xinhua news agency reported.

He said his right-wing Likud party is “by far” the largest party in Israel, after the polls suggested it won about 31 seats.

“It is obvious that a clear majority of the citizens of Israel are right-wing and they want a stable and strong right-wing government that will take care of Israel’s economy and security,” Netanyahu added.

In a bid to form a government coalition, Netanyahu talked over the phone with leaders of three right-wing parties that already vowed to join a coalition under his leadership. Exit polls projected that they have won some 53-54 seats together.

Naftali Bennet, leader of the pro-settler Yamina party, said he also held a talk over the phone with Netanyahu.

Polls projected Yamina won about seven seats. If Bennet, a former close ally of Netanyahu, will decide to join the longtime leader’s coalition, they could form a coalition of 61 seats in the 120-seat parliament.

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