Early Poll Results Show Netanyahu May Retain PM Office

Despite trailing in the polls, early results from Tuesday's election show Benjamin Netanyahu's party is in a good position to hold onto power.

Early Poll Results Show Netanyahu May Retain PM Office
Getty Images / Mark Wilson

Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu may have survived a campaign to unseat him in Tuesday's election. Early exit polls show his Likud party beating the upstart Zionist Union party by one seat in parliament, though counting will continue through the night.

If confirmed, it's 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. 

Once the final numbers are in, the task of deciding Israel's next prime minister will most likely fall to Israeli President Reuven Rivlin. If neither party gets a clear majority, Rivlin will have the task of choosing which party gets to form the next government.

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.