Israel election results: Likud and Zionist Union tie with 27 seats in exit polls

Channel 10 and Channel 1 said Likud and ZU had secured 27 seats each in the 120-member Knesset

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The Independent Online

The Israeli polls have closed with a neck-and-neck result for Likud and the Zionist Union.

Exit polls by Israel's leading television channels showed that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party drew even with Isaac Herzog's Zionist Union.

Channel 10 and Channel 1 said Likud and ZU had secured 27 seats each in the 120-member Knesset. Channel 2 reported that Netanyahu had gained just one extra seat, winning 28 to Isaac Herzog’s 27 for the ZU.

Current leader Mr Netanyahu’s campaign has focused on security and diplomacy, including the controversial declaration that there will be no Palestinian state if he emerges victorious for another term.

Haaretz reports that President Reuven Rivlin wishes to work towards a national unity government.

"I am convinced that only a unity government can prevent the rapid disintegration of Israel's democracy and new elections in the near future," Rivlin said.

 

Netanyahu is already the longest-serving prime minister since state founder David Ben-Gurion, and could break his record if he makes another term.

Even if his party loses, Mr Netanyahu could still be invited back as Prime Minister by President Reuven Rivlin to form a coalition government from Israel’s diaspora of numerous political parties.

There are 5,881,696 people in Israel eligible to vote at the 10,119 polling stations across the country.

All Israeli citizens over the age of 18 can vote, including those living over the Green Line in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

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Additional reporting by Reuters

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