Netanyahu Wins Third Israeli National Election in Less Than a Year, May Form Coalition Government

Exit polling indicated a victory for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Likud's party in a win that could allow Netanyahu to form a coalition government. However, Likud may not have received enough of the popular vote to win a majority in Knesset, the Israeli parliament.

Voting numbers are expected to change overnight as the votes from soldiers are counted.

"This is a night of great victory," Netanyahu said to his supporters. "We won against all odds. They eulogized us, but we prevailed. We made lemons into lemonade."

"We turned Israel into a superpower, we nurtured new connections with world leaders, including more leaders than you can even imagine in the Arab and Muslim world," Netanyahu continued. "When I say that we will bring peace agreements with more Arab nations, it's not mere words. There are things in the works. This is only the tip of the iceberg."

Israel has held three elections in less than a year, but tonight's results are the strongest Netanyahu has been able to achieve in recent voting.

Netanyahu's main competitor, Benny Gantz, asked his supporters to wait until the final results have been announced.

"I understand the feeling of disappointment," Gantz told his supporters. "We will not give up on our principles and our path."

benjamin netanyahu
Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, delivers a statement to the press during a Likud Party meeting on March 1, 2020 in the city of Lod, Israel. Amir Levy/Getty

Gantz ran representing the Blue and White Party which espouses a term limit for the Prime Minister, freedom of the press and a civil union law which would, according to a Blue and White pamphlet, "allow every couple to formalize their partnership in line with their beliefs."

Newsweek reached out to Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs for comment but did not receive a comment in time for publication.

Tonight's Likud victory comes in the wake of charges of bribery, breach of trust and fraud against Netanyahu.

Netanyahu is accused of working with Israeli media companies to promote positive coverage of both Netanyahu and his policies. He also allegedly spoke with newspaper owner Arnon Mozes about introducing legislation that would limit the circulation of a rival newspaper. While Netanyahu did not accept a bribe Mozes offered him, neither did he turn it down.

"Netanyahu did not refuse the bribe and did not stop talking to Mozes," read the indictment. "He continued to hold a long and detailed conversation with Mozes about the elements of the proposal and presented him with a real possibility that he would use his governing power to promote beneficial legislation with Mozes."

President Donald Trump met with Netanyahu in January as Trump unveiled his Middle East peace plan which Netanyahu said "addresses the root cause of the conflict by insisting that the Palestinians will finally have to recognize Israel as the Jewish State."

Trump's peace plan angered Palestinians, including Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas,, who cut diplomatic ties with both the U.S. and Israel in February.

"We've informed the Israeli side," Abbas said at an Arab League meeting, "that there will be no relations at all with them and the United States including security ties."