The endless Israeli election cycle may have finally reached its terminus, though there's still a chance for round four.
Exit polls Monday are suggesting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party was victorious over his center-right rival Benny Gantz's Blue and White Party in the country's third parliamentary elections within the last year. Netanyahu is also expected to add extra spots in a coalition with his religious and nationalist allies to bring the total up to 60. If the results — which are often imprecise at this stage, per Al Jazeera — hold when voting is finalized Tuesday, that would still fall one shy of a majority in the 120-seat parliament, however.
It's not clear if Likud can make up even that limited ground, but the far-right Yisrael Beiteinu party leader, Avigdor Lieberman, has promised there will not be a fourth election. Lieberman is often considered a possible kingmaker who can end the country's gridlock, but he has previously refused to elevate either Netanyahu or Gantz in the previous two elections.
Gantz maintains he's willing to forge a coalition with Likud, but he won't accept Netanyahu — who is under investigation for corruption — as its leader. Read more at Al Jazeera and Reuters. Tim O'Donnell
The early results of Israel's elections are in, but the country's future seemingly remains almost as uncertain as it did when the day began, aside from the fact that Israeli Prime Minister's bargaining power appears to have weakened.
Initial exit polls Tuesday reportedly indicate Netanyahu failed to secure a parliamentary majority. And while Israel's three major television stations had challenger Benny Gantz's centrist Blue and White party holding a slight lead over Netanyahu's Likud party, neither will reportedly be able to control a majority in the Knesset — at least without the support of former Netanyahu ally Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beitenu party, which refused to join Netanyahu's coalition in April. Lieberman may very well end up playing the role of kingmaker, Reuters reports, as the predictions that his party should capture somewhere between eight and 10 seats means he'd have the ability to form a coalition.
He reportedly wants to forge a unity government with Blue and White and Likud, though if he were to sign off on it, the government would reportedly have to exclude ultra-Orthodox parties, whose influence Lieberman is seeking to limit. Gantz has also ruled out participating in an administration with Netanyahu if the latter is indicted on corruption chargers. Basically, there's no easy path to a government at the moment.