Netanyahu's Likud Party Wins Israeli Election

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went neck and neck with Zionist Union Party leader Issac Herzog but ultimately pulled away in the election.
Posted at 2:14 AM, Mar 18, 2015

Israeli's Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party has won the country's parliamentary election, a victory that will likely lead to the prime minister's fourth term in office. 

Netanyahu went neck and neck with Zionist Union Party leader Issac Herzog, but ultimately fought off the competition. (Video via BBC)

With nearly all votes counted Wednesday, several media outlets say the Likud party is set to take 30 seats compared to 24 seats for Zionist Union. (Video via Euronews)

This is an unexpected win for the prime minister's party, which had trailed heading into the polls. 

The election had become, in many ways, a referendum on Netanyahu himself. Voters across the political spectrum said he was out of touch with the needs of the average Israeli. 

But Netanyahu portrayed the election as a life-or-death battle, saying in an interview Sunday that he wouldn't allow a Palestinian state to be formed on his watch, out of fear it would fall to extremists. 

He also thwarted Israel's Supreme Court, which banned him from issuing campaign messages on election day, by making posts to Facebook, including a video urging his supporters to get to the polls to counter a strong Arab turnout. 

For his part, some say Herzog "exceeded expectations" because he fought Netanyahu in such a tight race and lead the polls for a considerable period, putting his newly-formed Zionist Union party on the map.

The Arab coalition, which rallied behind the left-leaning Zionist Union, also came out in droves to try and stop Netanyahu's conservative bloc. Citing exit polls, CNN says, the "Arab coalition ranked as the third largest party."

The task of deciding Israel's next prime minister will now most likely fall to Israeli President Reuven Rivlin. Since neither party earned a clear majority, Rivlin will have the task of choosing which party gets to form the next government. (Video via President Reuven Rivlin)

Rivlin isn't expected to make that decision until next week, but analysts say Netanyahu's party is in the best position to form a governing coalition.

This video includes images from Getty Images.