Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu wins record Fifth term

Jerusalem: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has won the Israeli national election, securing a record fifth term in office despite running neck in neck with his challenger Benny Gantz, the country’s three main television channels said on Wednesday.

With 97 per cent of the votes counted, neither of the candidates’ parties had captured a ruling majority, but Netanyahu was clearly in a strong position to form a coalition government with other right-wing factions that have backed him.

“It is a night of colossal victory,” the 69-year-old Netanyahu told cheering supporters in a late-night speech at Likud headquarters while cautioning that “long night and possibly day” lay ahead awaiting official results.

Final results were expected by Friday, though the provisional results showed 65 of the Knesset’s 120 seats would go to the right-wing bloc of parties led by Netanyahu, against a total of 55 seats for centre-left factions.

If he wins, Netanyahu, 69, will be on track to be the longest-serving prime minister in Israel’s 71-year history. Netanyahu said he had already begun talks with prospective coalition allies.

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