no clear majority is emerging for Benyamin Netanyahu

The first exit polls, still unreliable, give the Prime Minister, in power without interruption since 2009, elbow to elbow with his main rival, the former Chief of Staff Benny Gantz.

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A campaign poster for Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu in Bnei Brak, Israel, on Tuesday, 17 September. Oded Balilty / AP

The next hours will be painful for Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu. No majority was apparent either for his party, the Likud, or for the bloc he formed with his right-wing allies, in the first exit polls, Tuesday, September 17, at 22 hours, the evening of Israeli parliamentary elections .

This picture, unreliable, will only last a few hours before the official results become clear over the night – they can still overturn entirely. But Channels 11, 12 and 13 give the Likud and his main rival, the Blue White movement, led by former Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, in a handkerchief, between 31 and 34 seats in the Knesset (out of 120 in total).

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The right-wing Prime Minister's coalition got between 54 and 57 seats, under the 61-seat majority he needs to stay in power after ten years of uninterrupted exercise, and while he remains under threat an indictment for corruption charges by the end of the year. His former ally, Avigdor Lieberman, posed as a kingmaker with eight to ten seats. There is a repetition of the legislative elections in April, after which Netanyahu failed to form a coalition government, precipitating the return to the polls.

"Tactics of violence"

It was not for lack of effort. All day, at the end of a campaign without the stake, if not the political survival of Mr. Netanyahu, all the parties had overplayed hysteria like never before. Israel does not know the electoral silence, the serenity of the vote. Mr. Netanyahu, by far the most active candidate despite his age, 69, has published at least one video on "Facebook live" per hour, Tuesday; he multiplied the interviews on the radio, despite the law that forbids them on polling day.

All his rivals have adopted his so-called violence tactics (gevalt in Yiddish): they implored their voters to go to the polls, in order to prevent a defeat, which they all pretended to be almost certain, to bluffing, the Likud going so far as to brandish false polls. A slight improvement in turnout from 10 am (2%, that counts in a tight vote) fueled this frenzy, with each side interpreting it as a massive influx of voters' electorate in polling stations. . At 20 hours, participation was 63.7%, 2.4 points more than in April and 1.3 more than in 2015.

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Four candidates have been seen harassing bathers in Tel Aviv, on the beaches, to go to the polls on this holiday. ultranationalist Ayelet Shaked warned them, high up in a lifeguard's cabin: "We are at war. " Mr. Netanyahu, standing on a cash desk, in Jerusalem's central bus station, megaphone in hand, said that the Palestinian Authority was texting the Arabs of Israel to urge them to go to the polls.

Fear of the Arab vote

In 2015, the Prime Minister was shocked by this alarm, in a video on Facebook: "Arabs vote en masse. " Today, his party stirred the fear of the Arab vote in all shades, all day long. It becomes almost normal.

The Likud sent voice messages to voters ("Participation is very high in the Arab sectors"); some of its activists put surveillance cameras at the exit of Arab polling stations as early as Monday night. The party's governing board convened an emergency meeting Tuesday in the middle of the day to discuss the threat. These calls are aimed as well at discouraging Arab voters. Just as the deployment announced by the Minister of Public Security, Gilad Erdan (Likud), before a poll, of a record 19,000 policemen around polling stations.

According to the first exit polls, the two left-wing movements, including the Labor Party, which presided over the birth of the state in 1948 and its first decades, escaped the outright disappearance by remaining on the sidelines. above the entrance threshold to the Knesset (3.25%). Rabbi Meir Kahane's heirs, supremacists and xenophobes, remained at the door. It will be up to President Reuven Rivlin in a few days to consult the new parliamentarians for a week to designate the one he considers best able to form a coalition of government. He has already warned: there will be no third ballot.

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