Israel election results too close to call
The results will continue to trickle in throughout the coming hours, but we're wrapping up our live coverage for now.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived at the Likud party election headquarters in Tel Aviv on Tuesday night to crowds chanting "Bibi" and fireworks on stage.
If Netanyahu was at all worried about his future after initial exit polls showed him in a tight race against rival Benny Gantz, he didn't show it.
"This is a night of great victory," Netanyahu said, adding that Likud had seen an "amazing success."
"I'm very touched that, for the fifth time, the people of Israel have believed in me."
Despite his confident speech, the inconclusive exit polls mean a tense night beckons for Netanyahu as he waits to see if his dream of becoming Israel's longest ever serving leader will be fulfilled. He would pass the founder of the state, David Ben Gurion, during the summer.
Following the closing of the polls in Israel, Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Dr. Mohammad Shtayyeh offered a pessimistic view of the outcome, saying, “the competition in Israeli elections is between those who want to annex Palestinian territories and those who want to maintain the status quo.” Speaking to CNN from Ramallah, the PA Prime Minister said, “we will live with dangerous Israeli politicians.”
Exit polls have the race too close to call between sitting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his challenger, former Israeli general Benny Gantz. Netanyahu has called for the annexation of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Gantz called Netanyahu’s comments "irresponsible."
The PA Prime Minister said, “no party has a peace plan” and added the Israeli elections have shown current Israeli politics is right wing and “does not recognize Palestinian rights.”
Speaking in front of a crowd of his supporters at the Blue and White party's election night headquarters, Benny Gantz called it a "historic" night and described his centrist party as "the winners," despite exit polls showing there was no clear winner.
"In elections there are losers and winners, and we are the winners,” Gantz said.
Thanking Benjamin Netanyahu for his service, Gantz vowed to form the next coalition government and said he would be the prime minister for "everyone," not just those who voted for him.
“It is not that we don’t understand, we understand that the real results we have to wait for and over the coming days we will do as necessary to form the next government.”
Blue and White supporters were ecstatic over their party's performance in the election. One supporter, 43-year-old Zehorit, hailed the result's potential impact on LGBT rights. But another, 32-year-old Ido, cautioned that other exit polls were still too close to call.
Netanyahu supporters also celebrated on Tuesday night. Like Gantz, the Prime Minister has also claimed victory in the wake of the vote.
Rivals Benny Gantz and Benjamin Netanyahu have both claimed victory in the Israeli election after exit polls showed the race too close to call.
"We won! The Israeli public has had their say!" Blue and White leader Gantz said. "Thank you to the thousands of activists and over a million voters. These elections have a clear winner and a clear loser. Netanyahu promised 40 seats and lost. The President can see the picture and should call on the winner to form the next government. There is no other option!”
Netanyahu said: “The right-wing bloc led by the Likud won a clear victory. I thank the citizens of Israel for the trust. I will start forming a right-wing government with our natural partners as soon as tonight.”
While none of the exit polls carried out during Israel's general election Tuesday showed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party in the lead, that does not mean he won't be able to form the next government.
Either party will have to secure the support of other smaller parties to form a governing majority in the 120-seat parliament.
Two exit polls showed Netanyahu on track to form Israel's next government, with support from the religious right. A third poll showed results too close to call.
Israeli Channel 12 showed Benny Gantz's Blue and White party virtually neck and neck with Likud, with the religious-right coalition taking 60 seats and Gantz's coalition taking the same, with support of the Arab parties.
Kan Channel 11 showed the religious-right coalition with 64 seats, versus a Gantz bloc with 56. And Channel 13 projected the religious-right wing coalition with 66 seats, 12 more than a Gantz coalition.
No party ever ends up with an outright majority after elections, and these results are just preliminary. Both men may end up with a chance to form a government, and the smaller parties will play a key role in coalition-building.
However it is extremely unlikely that the Arab parties would become full coalition partners in any government.