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EXIT POLLS: Netanyahu, right wing appear to have secured narrow victory – but final numbers could shift

Early results show probable path back to the prime minister's seat for Benjamin Netanyahu

Head of the Likud party Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara on the night of the Israeli elections, at the party headquarters in Jerusalem, Nov. 2, 2022. (Photo: Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

*This is a developing story

Voters have handed Benjamin Netanyahu a majority to create a right-wing bloc in the next Knesset, according to early exit polls after voting ended in Israel's fifth election in less than four years.

However, one result could shake the right-wing bloc – if the Arab party, Balad, crosses the minimum-vote mark to pass into the Knesset, the numbers would shift and Netanyahu's bloc could lose a projected seat, resulting in a tie and potentially failure to form a government.

In any case, whether Netanyahu can form a government will likely depend on the big winner today – the Religious Zionism party. The party, comprised of far-right wingers, surged to become the third largest party in the Knesset essentially crowning them the kingmaker in the election. They are projected in early exit polls to have 14 or 15 mandates.

Netanyahu's Likud party is projected to win some 30 seats followed by Prime Minister Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid. Lapid's current coalition took a hit and is projected to reach only 54 or 55 seats, according to exit polls.

Netanyahu would need his traditional partners – the ultra-Orthodox parties Shas and United Torah Judaism – who are projected to win about 10 and seven seats respectively to partner with Likud and round out the majority of the 120-seat Knesset.

However, the political landscape could yet shift until the final numbers are in.

As predicted in the polls, Ayelet Shaked of Jewish Home will likely not cross the minimum threshold to get into the Knesset.

While the final vote was still being counted, Likud members were already celebrating their victory.

"The State of Israel is today finally returning to its common sense. After years of political instability, the citizens of Israel voted today in favor of a national government that will restore security and governance to the cities of Israel. In the coming days we will establish a stable and strong national government that will work for all the citizens of Israel," said Danny Danon, former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations.

Nicole Jansezian was the news editor and senior correspondent for ALL ISRAEL NEWS.

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