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Exit polls show Netanyahu with big win

Israel polling stations have closed and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud party are set to become the largest party in the tiny nation. Exit polls show Likud gained seats on Monday, putting him near the 61 seats needed in a coalition to retain control.

The news comes as Metro Voice publishers Dwight and Anita Widaman are in Washington DC at the annual Policy Conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Close to 20,000 people are in attendance.

Throughout the crowd, attendees are talking about the Israeli exit polls and the prospect of a Netanyahu victory.

Until all the votes are counted it is unclear whether Netanyahu can reach the number needed to win a parliamentary majority.

Exit polls in Israel’s unprecedented third general election in less than a year indicated Monday that incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu holds an edge over his main challenger, retired military chief Benny Gantz, but not enough to clinch a parliamentary majority — despite Netanyahu’s upcoming trial on corruption charges.

VIDEO: These Israeli Arabs supporting Netanyahu

Voting ended at 10 p.m. local time Monday and Netanyahu’s nationalist Likud party is predicted to win 37 Knesset seats out of 120, while Gantz’ centrist Blue and White party is predicted to win either 32 or 33 seats, according to three exit polls.

The early results came after a hard-fought campaign for the country’s third election in less than a year.

–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice