UPDATE: IT WAS A ROUT >>> Breaking: @NETANYAHU WINS Israeli Election – Declares Victory

NETANYAHU STAYS!
bibi stays

First reports from Israel — Netanyahu with small lead.

More… Likud in lead.

UPDATE: Netanyahu and Likud Win!
The AP reported:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has declared victory after a tight national election appeared to give him the upper hand in forming the country’s next coalition government.

In a statement released on Twitter, Netanyahu says that “against all odds” his Likud party and the nationalist camp secured a “great victory.”

Initial exit polls showed Netanyahu’s Likud Party deadlocked with the center-left Zionist Union.

But the results indicated that Netanyahu will have an easier time cobbling together a majority coalition with hard-line and religious allies.

Josh Block, President and CEO of The Israel Project, released this statement tonight.

Tonight the people of Israel marked the culmination of another exciting election season, with millions of people voting earlier today and the process of forming a new Israeli coalition beginning already tonight.

In this celebration of democracy, Israeli voters came out to vote for their chosen party’s vision for Israel. While the polls remain very close and the final votes will be tallied over the coming days, Israelis have rallied around the country’s traditional center-left and center-right pillars. Israel is a centrist country and the results point in that direction, not a shift to the right, left, or otherwise.

Pocket book issues and the economy – things like the cost of housing, the job market, taxes and healthcare – were foremost on people’s minds. Regional and security issues, where consensus across the political spectrum is broad and differences between the parties are slight, were not points of differentiation for most voters, according to the exit polls.

Today’s election provided a dramatic reminder that Israel is a stable island of democracy in an increasingly turbulent Middle East. It’s a democracy that represents people of all faiths and backgrounds, and all layers of Israel’s society, where minorities vie for political power – and often succeed.

Israel will now move to the complicated process of forming a new government, one that will reflect the preferences and beliefs of the diverse voters who came out to the polls today.

UPDATE: It was not even close…

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