Two key Netanyahu coalition allies have endorsed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for an additional term as Prime Minister, following Tuesday’s general election.
Shas chairman and Interior Minister Aryeh Deri and the United Torah Judaism chief, Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman both spoke with Netanyahu after the polls closed at 10:00 p.m. Tuesday night, vowing to recommend Netanyahu as the next Prime Minister.
To secure the premiership, a candidate must show the president that he or she has the backing of 61 MKs in the 120-member Knesset.
Exit polls released Tuesday night show the Likud with 33 to 36 seats, compared to 36 to 37 for the center-left Blue and White party.
Shas is projected to win between six and seven seats, while UTJ is expected to win seven mandates.
Both parties would be required to support Netanyahu as Prime Minister for the Likud to form a right-wing government and avoid a deadlocked Knesset or unity coalition with Blue and White.
A third party chairman, however, has refused to speak with either Netanyahu or Blue and White chief Benny Gantz.
Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avidgor Liberman has turned down calls from both Netanyahu and Gantz, saying he would wait until after the actual vote count comes in.
“The picture is too cloudy,” said Liberman. “There are big gaps between the exit polls and the real results.”
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, the chairman of the Kulanu faction, did speak with Netanyahu, and was initially reported as having vowed to back the Prime Minister for an additional term. Kahlon later clarified, however, that he would not formally commit to recommending any candidate until the final results are released.