Americans need to understand the Middle East
How much do we really know?

At The Media Line, we value all points of view and aim to mend our differences through fact-based narrative-inclusive journalism Help support our bold and brave team in Afghanistan, Gaza, Israel, Palestinian Territories, the UAE, and beyond.
Help us continue our work and provide access to the news that matters to you.

Thank you and best wishes to you and yours for this Jewish New Year.
 
Felice Friedson
Founder, President
Exit Polls in Israel Show Netanyahu on Cusp of Retaining Power (LIVE UPDATES)
This picture taken on March 2, 2020 shows people standing before a giant screen displaying a broadcast from Israel's Channel 13 with an exit poll prediction after polls closed in the Israeli elections, predicting that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's Likud party expects to command a 60-seat bloc against 52 for Benny Gantz' Blue and White electoral alliance, at Blue and White's headquarters in Tel Aviv. (Menahem Kahana/AFP via Getty Images)

Exit Polls in Israel Show Netanyahu on Cusp of Retaining Power (LIVE UPDATES)

[See 02:15 update below] All exit polls in Israel give the right-wing bloc led by Prime Minister and Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu 60 seats in the 120-seat Knesset following the third snap election in less than a year. Two previous rounds saw no one able to form a coalition, but these polls show Netanyahu literally on the cusp of a right-wing government — although they in no way indicate an official outcome.

The exit polls run by Israel’s main television news channels are as follows:

Channel 11: Likud – 36; Blue and White – 33; Joint List – 15; Shas – 9; United Torah Judaism – 8; Yamina – 7; Israel Beitenu – 6; Labor-Gesher-Meretz – 6.

Channel 12: Likud – 37; Blue and White – 33; Joint List – 14; Shas – 9; United Torah Judaism – 7; Yamina -7; Labor-Gesher-Meretz – 7; Israel Beitenu – 6.

Channel 13: Likud -37; Blue and White – 32; Joint List – 14; Shas – 9; United Torah Judaism – 8 Israel Beitenu – 8; Yamina – 6; Labor-Gesher-Meretz – 6.

All give the right-wing bloc, made up of the Likud, Yamina, Shas and United Torah Judaism, 60 seats, although with varying permutations.

It should be noted, however, that Netanyahu goes on trial for three separate cases of alleged corruption on March 17. The country’s High Court of Justice will most likely be petitioned to declare him unfit to lead a new government although the court previously indicated that it would prefer not to interfere in the political process.

UPDATES — Follow LIVE:

03:00: The Media Line is ending its live updates. More news soon.

02:55: Prime Minister and Likud party leader Binyamin Netanyahu addressed ecstatic supporters in Tel Aviv early on March 3, saying “We love you and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. This night is a gigantic victory.” Although initial exit polls showed his Likud well ahead of the centrist Blue and White alliance, they did not show an easy path forward toward the establishment of a governing coalition. Netanyahu said: “We stood against vast forces; they already eulogized us. Our opponents said, ‘The Netanyahu era is over.’ But together we flipped the story. We turned lemons to lemonade.” He continued by saying: “Tomorrow, after we get some sleep, we will meet [with the leaders of other right-wing parties] to form a strong, stable government, a good national government for Israel.”

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu waves to enthusiastic supporters early on Tuesday morning in Tel Aviv after exit polls placed his right-wing/religious bloc tantalizing close to the possibility of forming form a coalition. (Jack Guez/AFP via Getty Images)

02:25: In what sounded like a concession speech, Blue and White leader Benny Gantz told supporters in Tel Aviv that the centrist alliance had “only now embarked on its path. We have a long way to go.” But he reminded them that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, whose Likud party did considerably better than Blue and White, goes on trial for alleged corruption in just a couple of weeks. “Criminal processes are decided only in the courtroom,” he said, alluding to concerns that Netanyahu, should he form a government, might seek to legislate immunity or a deferred trial. “We will be in the streets. We won’t let anyone destroy our country. We won’t let anyone divide us, dismantle Israeli society or crush our democracy,” he vowed.

A disappointed Benny Gantz, leader of Blue and White, addresses supporters early in the morning of March 3 in Tel Aviv. (Menahem Kahana/AFP via Getty Images)

02:15: The exit poll results published by all of Israel’s main TV news programs have been revised, moving the right-wing/religious bloc headed by Likud leader and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu one seat farther away from a possible ruling coalition, from 60 to 59. The revisions take into account an additional two hours of polling, highlighting that in the race to present results by 10 p.m. local time, when the polls closed, none of the channels had factored in results compiled after 8 p.m. Again, it should be noted that while exit polls in Israel are usually a good indicator, they do not reflect the actual outcome, which will become clearer throughout the night, although perhaps not until Tuesday morning. The revised results of the exit polls are:

Channel 11 (revised): Likud – 36; Blue and White – 33; Joint List – 15; Shas – 9; United Torah Judaism – 8; Israel Beitenu – 7 (one more); Yamina – 6 (one less); Labor-Gesher-Meretz – 6.

Channel 12 (revised): Likud – 37; Blue and White – 32 (one less); Joint List – 15 (one more); Shas – 9; United Torah Judaism – 7; Labor-Gesher-Meretz – 7; Israel Beitenu – 7 (one more); Yamina – 6 (one less).

Channel 13 (revised): Likud – 37; Blue and White – 34 (two more); Joint List – 14; Shas – 9; United Torah Judaism – 7 (one less); Labor-Gesher-Meretz – 7 (one more); Israel Beitenu – 6 (two less); Yamina – 6.

02:00: The exit poll results published by two of Israel’s main TV news programs, Channels 12 and 13, have been revised, moving the right-wing/religious bloc headed by Likud leader and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu one seat farther away from a possible ruling coalition, from 60 to 59. The revisions take into account an additional two hours of polling, highlighting that in the race to present results by 10 p.m. local time, when the polls closed, neither channel had factored in results compiled after 8 p.m. Again, it should be noted that while exit polls in Israel are usually a good indicator, they do not reflect the actual outcome, which will become clearer throughout the night, although perhaps not until Tuesday morning. The revised results of the exit polls are:

Channel 11: Likud – 36; Blue and White – 33; Joint List – 15; Shas – 9; United Torah Judaism – 8; Yamina – 7; Israel Beitenu – 6; Labor-Gesher-Meretz – 6.

Channel 12 (revised): Likud – 37; Blue and White – 32 (one less); Joint List – 15 (one more); Shas – 9; United Torah Judaism – 7; Labor-Gesher-Meretz – 7; Israel Beitenu – 7 (one more); Yamina – 6 (one less).

Channel 13 (revised): Likud – 37; Blue and White – 34 (two more); Joint List – 14; Shas – 9; United Torah Judaism – 7 (one less); Labor-Gesher-Meretz – 7 (one more); Israel Beitenu – 6 (two less); Yamina – 6.

00:20: A fly in Netanyahu’s ointment? Avigdor Liberman told supporters that Israel Beitenu will not join a government led by Likud head Binyamin Netanyahu if it means sitting with religious parties. Right-wing but avowedly secular, Israel Beitenu has been considered the wild card throughout the current series of elections. Its views on security and peace strongly coincide with those of the Likud. But its stance regarding matters of religion and state – an issue it considers just as important – places it squarely at odds with the religious parties that are in the Likud-led right-wing bloc, meaning Netanyahu might not be able to form the government he wants, even if the exit polls are accurate regarding that bloc.

00:00 (from The Media Line’s Mohammad Al-Kassim at Joint List election headquarters): Joint List lawmaker Ahmed Tibi: “I accuse Blue and White, and [leader Benny] Gantz, for the rise of the Right and Netanyahu. They [Blue and White leaders] failed in convincing the Israeli public of their agenda; they tried to circle around the Right and become a soft Right, and this is the result.”

23:55 (from The Media Line’s Maya Margit at Blue and White election headquarters): Blue and White lawmaker Orit Farkash-Hacohen: “This entire campaign was very low, with a lot of fake news. To be a politician in the era of fake news isn’t easy. Even still, we did some really good work. It’s important to remember that Blue and White is in existence for only a year. We’ve changed the political order in Israel. Benny Gantz is here leading Blue and White, and will continue to lead the party.”

23:50 (from The Media Line’s Charles Bybelezer at Likud election headquarters): Knesset Speaker and senior Likud figure Yuli Edelstein: “By all means, the Likud had a landslide victory… and it makes clear that we do not need a fourth round of elections. The Likud and [party head Binyamin] Netanyahu will lead the next government.”

23:40 (from The Media Line’s Mohammad Al-Kassim at Joint List election headquarters): Joint List leader Ayman Odeh on the record 14-15 seats given his list by exit polls: “I’m excited, but it’s a complex feeling right now. We are extremely ecstatic. We are very happy. It’s a historic moment. This is the first time ever that we received this many seats…. The sad part is that the Right and [Likud leader Binyamin] Netanyahu may be back forming a government… but the Joint List will stand as a bloc in the face of the Right and in the face of Netanyahu’s racist politics.”

23:25 (from The Media Line’s Charles Bybelezer at Likud election headquarters): Likud cabinet minister Miri Regev: “The public has made its voice heard — [Binyamin] Netanyahu will be the next prime minister. The Left has been defeated. All attempts to take down Netanyahu… before the election brought on the opposite result.”

23:20: Benny Gantz tweets: “Thank you to the thousands of [party] activists and more than a million people who voted for Blue and White. I will continue the struggle on your behalf.”

23:10: Likud head Binyamin Netanyahu and leaders of three other parties making up the country’s right-wing bloc say they will form a “strong nationalist government,” according to the Likud. Netanyahu is reportedly planning to give a victory address before midnight local time, with the exit polls of all three of the country’s major television stations giving the Likud 36-37 seats to 32-33 for the centrist Blue and White alliance.

23:00 (from The Media Line’s Maya Margit at Blue and White election headquarters): Blue and White lawmaker Yael German: “We have to wait for the true results. The results won’t be the same as we saw just now. There is the Arab party (Joint List], which will maybe get one more [seat], then the Likud will get one less…. I am not very happy with the results now, but we have to wait. There were three rounds [of elections], and until now, [Likud leader] Binyamin Netanyahu did not succeed in forming a government, so maybe [Blue and White leader Benny] Gantz will be able to form a government this time.”

22.30: The scene at Blue and White election headquarters in Tel Aviv after the centrist alliance’s poor showing in exit polls.

(Maya Margit)

22:15: All exit polls give the right-wing bloc led by Prime Minister and Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu 60 seats in the 120-seat Knesset, a seat shy of a minimum majority even without Israel Beitenu. Israel Beiteinu is a right-wing yet secular party. Its views on security and the peace process are strongly right-wing, yet its stance regarding matters of religion and state – an issue it considers just as important – places it squarely at odds with the religious parties in the right-wing bloc, meaning its allegiance cannot be predicted.

22:00: Exit poll results published by Israel’s main TV news programs show that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has an excellent chance of remaining in power and possibly assembling a right-wing coalition. It should be noted that prior exit polls in Israel have gotten things wrong, but they are usually a good indicator of the actual outcome, which will become clearer throughout the night, although perhaps not until Tuesday morning.

Channel 11: Likud – 36; Blue and White – 33; Joint List – 15; Shas – 9; United Torah Judaism – 8; Yamina – 7; Israel Beitenu – 6; Labor-Gesher-Meretz – 6.

Channel 12: Likud – 37; Blue and White – 33; Joint List – 14; Shas – 9; United Torah Judaism – 7; Yamina -7; Labor-Gesher-Meretz – 7; Israel Beitenu – 6.

Channel 13: Likud -37; Blue and White – 32; Joint List – 14; Shas – 9; United Torah Judaism – 8 Israel Beitenu – 8; Yamina – 6; Labor-Gesher-Meretz – 6.

21:45: Country anxiously awaits exit poll results in another 15 minutes.

20:30:

An artist in ballot slips performs on Jerusalem’s Jaffa Road late on the afternoon of Election Day. (Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Stay tuned for on-site coverage at the election headquarters of Likud, Blue and White and Joint List.

20:00: The Central Elections Committee says that as of 6 p.m., 56.3% of eligible voters cast their ballots. The figure at that hour last September was 53.5%, and in April, the first of the three snap elections called in less than a year, 52%. This not only flies in the face of those predicting voter fatigue, but indicates some of the highest voting rates in two decades. According to a spokesman for the mostly Arab Joint List, voter turnout among Israel’s Arab citizens was about 52% by 6 p.m., showing a 2-3% increase over September.

17:30: Election authorities say close to 60% of the 5,600 Israeli voters under quarantine due to exposure or possible exposure to coronavirus turned out to vote by 4:30 p.m. local time at 16 special polling tents set up around the country. The tents allow close access by car and minimal contact with election overseers, many of them wearing special protective suits. Originally set to close at 5 p.m., authorities decided to grant an extension to 7 p.m. due to long lines.

A woman under quarantine signs in to vote on March 2 at a special polling station set up in the Israeli town of Rosh Ha’ayin for people affected by coronavirus. (Ilia Yefimovic/picture alliance via Getty Images)

16:30: Stay tuned for on-site coverage at the election headquarters of Likud, Blue and White and Joint List.

15:50: The Central Elections Committee announces that turnout has remained comparatively high to both the April and September elections, with 38.1% of eligible voters having cast a ballot by 2:00 pm.

13:00: An election official says that as of noon local time, five hours after polling stations opened, 27.6% of eligible voters had cast a ballot, a slightly higher rate for the hour than in the September election. This is the third time Israelis are going to the polls in less than a year amid worries over voter fatigue.

12:30: Joint List leader Ayman Odeh says his alliance of primarily Arab parties will remain the third-largest faction in the next government, with 15 or 16 seats. “Everyone understands there is little chance to make a real change in the country without a partnership of Jews and Arabs,” he said. “We know we cannot do this alone, and hope to emerge from this election stronger so that we can have more of an influence on the future.”

Joint List head Ayman Odeh casts his ballot in Haifa. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP via Getty Images)

11:50: Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu casts his vote in Jerusalem, calling on supporters to not fear the coronavirus and head to the ballot box. “This is a great democratic right and we should be proud of it,” he said. Netanyahu’s Likud party has been engaged in an intensive effort to “bring out the vote,” as a high turn-out by loyalists could be the election difference-maker.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu casts his vote in Jerusalem with his wife, Sara. (Atef Safadi – pool/AFP via Getty Images)

11:45: President Reuven Rivlin expresses “shame” over having to vote for a third time in less than a year. “Israelis don’t deserve this never-ending instability. We deserve a government that works for us,” he said. The president urged citizens to head to the polls, stressing that “every vote is your voice. Go out and make it heard.”

11:15: Yisrael Beiteinu head Avigdor Liberman casts his ballot in the West Bank Jewish community of Nokdim. “Tonight will be an important decision between a strong Yisrael Beiteinu and a religious state,” the secular, nationalist politician said in reference to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s ultra-Orthodox allies.

11:00: Blue and White chief Benny Gantz casts his vote in his home town of Rosh Haayin. “The last few days we have all been exposed to lies… and a system that tries to pit us against each other,” he was quoted by media as saying. “Hopefully on this day we will begin the process of healing and begin living with each other together.”

Blue and White alliance head Benny Gantz votes in Tel Aviv with his wife, Revital. (Mustafa Alkharouf/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

10:00: Twenty-nine parties are officially contesting the election, but no more than eight are likely to break the 3.25% electoral threshold needed to enter the Knesset, Israel’s parliament.

8:45: Amid the global outbreak of coronavirus, the director-general of Israel’s Health Ministry says that 16 separate polling stations have been created for more than 5,000 Israelis currently under home quarantine after returning from trips abroad or having come in close contact with those travelers.

7:00: Over 10,500 polling stations have officially opened across Israel. Nearly 6.5 million eligible voters have until 10:00 pm to cast their ballots, when the first exit polls are expected.

 

 

Did you know we’re celebrating our 20th Anniversary as the 1st American News Agency exclusively covering the Middle East?

  • The Middle East landscape is changing rapidly.
  • The roads in the region open to new possibilities.
  • The Media Line continues to pave the way to a far greater understanding of the region’s land, people, policies and governments through our trusted, fact-based news.

We’re an independent, ad-free, non-profit news agency and rely on friends like you!

Please make your gift today.
Thank you!

We paved the way to be the Trusted Mid East News you can rely on!

We’re an independent, ad-free, non-profit news agency and rely on friends like you!

Invest in the
Trusted Mideast
News source.
We are on the
front lines.

Personalize Your News
Upgrade your experience by choosing the categories that matter most to you.
Click on the icon to add the category to your Personalize news
Browse Categories and Topics
Wake up to the Trusted Mideast News source Mideast Daily News Email
By subscribing, you agree to The Media Line terms of use and privacy policy.
Wake up to the Trusted Mideast News source Mideast Daily News Email
By subscribing, you agree to The Media Line terms of use and privacy policy.