[Ed. – He still has to put together a coalition, but the smart betting now that that he can do it and his opponents can’t. Likud and “Zionist Union,” the Herzog/Livni faction, are neck and neck in terms of Knesset seats, with the latest exit polls suggesting 27 for each.]
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on Twitter, claimed a “great victory” in Israel’s election on Tuesday, after exit polls showed his right-wing Likud party even with its main opponent, the center-left Zionist Union.
“Against all odds: a great victory for Likud, a great victory for the national camp led by Likud, a great victory for the people of Israel,” Netanyahu wrote on his official Twitter account.
Exit polls left both men with a chance to rule but Netanyahu with the clearer path to forming a coalition.
A new centrist party, Kulanu, led by a former member of Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud, seemed destined to emerge the kingmaker in possibly weeks of coalition negotiations.
Two television polls, for Channel 10 and Channel 1, said Likud and Herzog’s Zionist Union had each secured 27 seats each in the 120-member Knesset. Channel 2 gave Netanyahu a narrow edge, with 28 to 27 for his challenger.
Final results are not expected until early on Wednesday morning.