As exit polls hurt Netanyahu’s chances of remaining as prime minister, Israel’s prime minister said he will seek the formation of a new “Zionist” government that excludes Arab parties. He was speaking to a small crowd of supporters in Tel Aviv at 3:30 a.m. Wednesday, more than five hours after voting ended.
Initial exit polls placed challenger Benny Gantz’s Blue and White party just ahead of Netanyahu’s Likud, hurting Netanyahu’s chances of remaining as prime minister. “Exit polls are often imprecise” he said adding that he would wait for official results before making conclusions.
But he said he would not allow the formation of a new government with Arab partners. He said: “There will not be and there cannot be a government that leans on Arab, anti-Zionist parties.” Netanyahu’s campaign repeatedly had questioned the loyalty of Israel’s Arab citizens.
Exit polls in Tuesday’s vote showed Gantz’s Blue and White party with a slight lead over Netanyahu’s Likud. Neither party appears to have enough support to form a majority coalition in parliament with their traditional allies, raising the possibility they will have to form a broad unity government.