Israel is just hours away form having an official winner to lead the country as prime minister. Rivals Benny Gantz and Benjamin Netanyahu are each claiming victory as exit polls show the race too close to call in an important Israeli election that could determine the direction of the nation .
“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!”
Pollsters are reporting a low voter turnout, flaring concerns among Netanyahu’s Likud party.
The Times of Israel reports that voter turnout is at 61.3%, which is 1 point lower than 2015. An Israeli citizen has confirmed to Metro Voice news that media outlets in Isarel are confirming low turnout for the Likud party.
Polling stations close at 10p.m. (1900 GMT, 3 p.m. EDT).
“I have received a dramatic update that there is low turnout in Likud strongholds but that there is a high turnout in left-wing strongholds,” Netanyahu said. “We have to save the Right. There are only a few more hours.”
Meanwhile, the Likud election headquarter is buzzing with activity. So far, there are no Likud leaders present. The event was scheduled to begin at 8 p.m., but was postponed to 11 p.m. because of the low voter turnout, The Times of Israel reports.
Netanyahu’s rival, Benny Gantz from the Blue and White party, urged voters to ignore Netanyahu’s concerns.
“These are the last hours of the campaign. Do not believe any word that Netanyahu is now saying. The battle is close. If you do not get everyone out of the house now and send them to the ballot box, we will not win the elections.”
Experts say Netanyahu and Gantz are feigning alarm in a last-ditch effort to get voters to the polls.
Netanyahu is seeking a record-breaking fourth consecutive term, which would make him the longest serving prime minister in Israel’s history.
While Gantz and Netanyahu have very different views on policy, tonight, with just a few hours left, they are sending the same message to Israelis – go vote.