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Netanyahu, rival Gantz both claim Israeli election win on narrow exit polls

Both Prime Minister Netanyahu and the leaders of the rival Blue and White party, former military chief Benny Gantz and centrist politician Yair Lapid, have declared victory in Israel's elections as murky exit-poll predictions rolled in. Netanyahu announced Tuesday: "A right-wing bloc led by the Likud party won a clear victory. I thank the citizens of Israel for the trust." Gantz and Lapid also declared: "We won! The Israeli public has had their say!"

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and challenger Benny Gantz both claimed victory in Tuesday's election after exit polls predicted a parliamentary majority for rightist parties under the incumbent but a big showing for Gantz's party.

"We won! The Israeli public has had its say!" said Gantz's centrist Blue and White party, which two out of three exit polls saw taking more seats than Netanyahu's conservative Likud. A third exit poll predicted the two parties would be tied.

However, two of the polls predicted that right-wing parties would together take more than 60 of parliament's 120 seats, forming a bloc that Netanyahu could marshal to form the next coalition government. The third exit poll predicted this bloc would be tied with centre-left parties tilted toward Gantz.

"The rightist bloc led by Likud has won a clear victory," Netanyahu said in a statement. "I will begin forming a right-wing government with our natural partner this very night."

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