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Benjamin Netanyahu emerges winner

Netanyahu's Likud party won 29-30 seats in the 120-member Knesset (parliament/legislature), comfortably defeating the Zionist Union opposition on 24 seats.

Benjamin Netanyahu has won the 2015 Israeli elections.

According to news agency Reuters, with 99.5 percent of votes counted, Netanyahu's Likud party won 29-30 seats in the 120-member Knesset (parliament/legislature), comfortably defeating the Zionist Union opposition on 24 seats. A united list of Arab parties came in third.

His victory was indeed unexpected and hard fought one as opinion polls published 4 days before the vote showed the Zionist Union with a four-seat advantage over Likud.

It could be speculated that this led Netanyahu to make a series of promises designed to shore up his Likud base and draw voters from other right-wing and nationalist parties.

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In the 4-day pre-election blitz, pledged to go on building settlements on occupied land and said there would be no Palestinian state if he was re-elected.

In a statement, Likud said Netanyahu intended to form a new government within weeks, with negotiations already underway with the pro-settler Jewish Home party, the centrist Kulanu party and ultra-Orthodox groups.

Meanwhile, Isaac Herzog, the leader of the Zionist Union, conceded defeat, saying he had called Netanyahu to congratulate him.

With this win, Netanyahu is on his way to a 4th-term in office, putting him on track to become Israel's longest-serving prime minister, a label held by the country's founding father, David Ben-Gurion.

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