Netanyahu declares victory

 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

The Jerusalem Post is reporting that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared victory after the first exit polls released following Tuesday’s elections showed the Likud ahead of, or tied with, the Zionist Union.

Netanyahu wrote on his Facebook page: “Against all odds, a great victory for the Likud, for the nationalist camp led by the Likud, and for the people of Israel.”

The numbers for Netanyahu’s Likud were better than expected after pre-election polls had showed him trailing Isaac Herzog’s Zionist Union by as much as five mandates.

BenjaminNetanyahuVotingNetanyahu had already begun the legwork of forming a coalition, speaking by phone with Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett, Shas chief Arye Deri, and Moshe Gafni of United Torah Judaism.

Bennett congratulated Netanyahu for his “victory,” and the two mutually agreed to begin negotiations for the formation of a nationalistic coalition government that would work to “better the security and well-being of the Israeli people.”

Click here for report from the Jerusalem Post.

Click here for report from the Times of Israel.