Netanyahu is on track to win the Israeli elections
Final results are expected by Friday. The provisional results showed 65 of the 120 seats would go to the right-wing bloc of parties led by Netanyahu.
Isreal Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has a clear path to win the Israeli national elections and secure a record fifth term in office.
With 97 percent of the votes counted, the veteran right-wing leader's Likud party and Gantz's new centrist Blue and White party both won 35 seats. But, neither of them captured a ruling majority, according to the Knesset—Israeli parliament—website. The final three percent votes—belonging to soldiers and diplomats overseas—are being counted.
Netanyahu is in a strong position with other right-wing factions—that have won more seats than the Arab, centre and left parties—to form a coalition government. According to Israeli TV channels, he has already begun talks with prospective coalition allies.
On Tuesday night, both men claimed victory before tally. "We are the victors," said Gantz, the former military chief fighting his first election. "We want to thank Benjamin Netanyahu for his service to the nation."
The 69-year-old Netanyahu said, "It is a night of colossal victory," in a late-night speech at Likud headquarters. Final results are expected to arrive by Friday.
If re-elected, Netanyahu will be the longest-serving prime minister in the country’s 71-year history. In power consecutively since 2009, he has been fighting for his political survival. This race was widely seen as a referendum on Netanyahu's character who is facing corruption allegations. He faces possible indictment in three cases but has denied wrongdoing in all of them.
Once the votes are tallied, President Reuven Rivlin will ask parties that have won seats whom they support. He will then pick a party leader and give the candidate 28 days to form a coalition and a two-week extension if needed.