Exit polls show tight race for Netanyahu in Israeli elections

Exit polls showed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuBenjamin (Bibi) NetanyahuMORE falling short of securing an outright majority of parliament in the country's election Tuesday, raising the chances of a unity government.

The exit polls posted by Israel's three major TV stations showed challenger Benny Gantz's centrist Blue and White party with a slight edge over Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party, The Associated Press reported.

Gantz held a narrow edge in two exit polls, while he and Netanyahu were tied in a third, The New York Times noted. None of the surveys showed either man with a governing majority.


Neither major party candidate has a majority in parliament without the backing of Avigdor Lieberman, who runs the third Yisrael Beitenu party.

A unity government involving all three parties is becoming more likely, while Netanyahu's own future role in the government is unclear, the AP reported.

Still, exit polls in Israel are not always accurate, and the results could change in the coming hours.

Netanyahu, the longest-serving leader in Israeli history, said earlier Tuesday that the vote would be "very close."

The prime minister is going for a fourth consecutive term and his fifth overall.

This is the second election match-up between Netanyahu and Gantz after Netanyahu won the election in April but failed to earn majority support in parliament without Lieberman's support.

The prime minister then disbanded parliament and asked for a new election.