Jerusalem, March 3 (IANS) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party and its allies are poised to win the largest number of seats in the parliamentary elections, exit polls have showed.

According to the exit polls on Israel’s TV news channels on Monday, Netanyahu and his right-wing and Jewish ultra-Orthodox ally parties are likely to win 60 seats together, one seat short of the majority needed in the 120-seat Israeli Parliament to form a coalition government, Xinhua reported.

The centre-left bloc, headed by former military chief Benny Gantz, gained between 52-54 seats.

Netanyahu’s rightwing Likud party was projected to win about 37 seats while its main rival, Benny Gantz’s centrist Blue and White party, garnered about 33.

The Israeli leader is expected to soon arrive at the Likud’s elections headquarters in Tel Aviv to give his victory speech.

A Likud spokesman said in a statement that Netanyahu has talked over the phone with leaders of his three ally parties, the pro-settler party of Yemina and the ultra-Orthodox parties of Shas and United Torah Judaism, who “agreed to establish a strong national government for Israel as soon as possible”.

Israel Katz, head of the Likud’s elections headquarters and Israeli foreign minister, told Channel 12 TV news that the exit polls’ results showed “a landslide victory”.

If proved so by the official results, the vote could give Netanyahu a significant boost before the start of his criminal trial set to begin on March 17 over his charges of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust in three separate cases.

Official results are expected to be released early Tuesday morning.

It is Israel’s unprecedented third parliamentary elections in fewer than a year after the two pervious rounds yielded inconclusive results, causing a year-long political stalemate.




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