Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on his main challenger Benny Gantz on Thursday to form a unity government together as election results showed both without an obvious path to a majority coalition.
Netanyahu, in a video message, said he preferred to form a right-wing coalition, but the results showed it was not possible. Gantz, a former armed forces chief who heads the centrist Blue and White Party, planned to make a statement at 2 p.m. (1100 GMT), a spokesman said.
Making the surprise offer, Netanyahu, head of the right-wing Likud party and Israel’s longest-serving leader, said in a video clip that in the run-up to Tuesday’s election, he had pledged to form a right-wing government.
“But to my regret, the election results show that this is impossible,” Netanyahu said. “Benny, we must set up a broad unity government, as soon as today. The nation expects us, both of us, to demonstrate responsibility and that we pursue cooperation.”
Benjamin Netanyahu has fallen short of securing a parliamentary majority with his hard-right allies in Israel’s unprecedented second election, exit polls and preliminary results have shown. The apparent set back dealt a devastating blow to the embattled prime minister who is campaigning under the shadow of indictment across three corruption cases and so fighting for his political survival.
The polls were posted by Israel’s three major TV stations after polling stations closed across the country, indicating his political future could be in doubt. Partial results released hours later by the country’s elections commissions, based on over 40 per cent of the vote counted, also showed Mr Netanyahu, his Likud party and their allies had failed to win an outright majority.
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