Netanyahu and Gantz announce victory and the first in a better position to form a coalition government

 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his rival Benny Gantz were quick to announce their victory in the legislative elections on Tuesday night, after opinion polls showed a close approximation between them, with the revelation that Netanyahu was in a better position to form a coalition government.

Opinion polls from three television stations show that the Likud party will receive between 33 and 36 seats in the 120-member parliament, while Gantz's blue-and-white list will be 36 or 37.

But the flags themselves shown Netanyahu was in a better position to form a government coalition than his rival, Gantz.

The polls cave the Likud coalition with the smaller right-wing parties between 60 and 66 seats, while a blue-white alliance with other smaller parties would only take between 54 and 60 seats.

Opinion polls are being treated with caution because their results were contrary to the final results during the legislative elections of 2015.

The polling stations were closed at 19:00 GMT but the official results were not released until Wednesday morning.

Former Israeli army chief Benny Gantz formed a significant opponent in the face of the veteran prime minister.

Gantz voted in his hometown of Rosh Haain, promising a "new path" for Israel.

"I am happy to put myself in the service of the State of Israel, I am happy to stand in the interest of the people on the threshold of a new path," said the leader of the Central Alliance after casting his vote.

"We must respect democracy and call on all parties to respect this day and maintain calm," he said.

On Tuesday, Netanyahu voted in a Jerusalem school and urged the Israelis to "make good choices." "You must be elected, this is a sacred act and the essence of democracy," he said.

"I will not tell you who I vote for, but I will not," he said.

The election will be a referendum on Netanyahu, 69, who has been engaged in a populist political speech throughout his bitter campaign, which observers say has reached the demonic level of Arabs and others.

The prime minister faced more problems on Tuesday when the Front for Democracy and Arab Change filed a complaint with the police against members of the right-wing Likud party, who said they were using hidden cameras in their clothes in polling stations in Arab towns and villages, saying it was illegal and trying to "scare the Arabs and warn them that they would follow "He said.

Only three days before the elections, Netanyahu announced his intention to annex West Bank settlements to Israel if he wins, which is tantamount to a shot of mercy over the remaining hopes of a two-state solution with the Palestinians.

For his part, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday expressed the hope that the results of the Israeli elections "peace".

Ronit Kampf, a 45-year-old Israeli university professor, was one of the first to cast ballots at a polling station in Jerusalem, where she expressed concern over the accusations against the prime minister.

"Bibi has been in power for a long time, there will be a big change, I do not know exactly what kind of change, but there will be a change," said a Netanyahu user.

Netanyahu highlighted Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and his recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. At the same time, Netanyahu used tactics similar to those used by Trump, describing corruption investigations as a "chilling pursuit" and condemning journalists covering them.

On Tuesday, Netanyahu warned his Likud party against the danger of losing because of a low turnout among his supporters. He also addressed the photo of a beach photographer in Netanya who went out to enjoy the sunny spring weather.

Netanyahu said he canceled an event he was supposed to attend on Tuesday, calling for an emergency meeting with party officials to discuss the issue.

Gantz, the 59-year-old ex-paratrooper who formed a central coalition to challenge Netanyahu, was based on allegations of corruption against the prime minister to emphasize that his time had come.

He described Netanyahu's pledge to annex the settlements as an "irresponsible" attempt to get right-wing votes.

Gantz says he prefers an "internationally supported peace agreement" that notes Israel's retention of large settlement blocs in the West Bank and security control of the area, pointing out his opposition to any unilateral moves.

Gantz also published a video recording on Tuesday evening urging voters to go to the polls. "We can not miss the opportunity ... go down to polling stations and take your friends and vote for white and blue," he said.

If Netanyahu, who has been in office for 13 years, wins, he will be the first prime minister to go beyond the tenure of Israel's founder David Ben-Gurion.

If he wins, he will also face the prospect of being the first prime minister to be indicted.

The Israeli public prosecutor announced that he intended to indict Netanyahu for receiving bribes, fraud and poor trust pending pending interrogations.

But his accusation does not require him to resign, except in case of conviction and after exhaustion of all appeals.

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