Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party emerged as the largest faction in a close parliamentary election Tuesday, but a lackluster performance by his party along with surprising gains by a centrist newcomer raised the possibility that he will be forced to form a broad coalition.
The exit polls, by Israel’s two leading news channels, have historically proved accurate within a few percentage points. They showed Mr. Netanyahu’s joint slate with Yisrael Beitenu leader Avigdor Lieberman, won 31 seats in Israel’s 120-seat Knesset, a drop from 42 the two parties had in the outgoing Knesset. The Labor Party placed third with 17 mandates, according to the polls.
In a statement posted on his Facebook FB +3.60% page, Mr. Netanyahu said he would reach across the aisle and try to form a broad-based coalition.
“According to the exit polls, it is clear that Israel citizens decided that they want me to continue to serve as prime minister of Israel, and that I form the widest possible majority (coalition),” he said. “Already this evening I will begin working toward the widest possible government.”