LIVE BLOG: Herzog Congratulates Netanyahu, Refuses to Say Whether He'll Join Coalition

Final results: Netanyahu's Likud scores decisive victory in Israeli election, set to win 30 Knesset seats, Zionist Union gets 24 • Netanyahu calls for 'strong' government to safeguard security, welfare • Meretz leader Zehava Galon resigns in wake of election results.

Benjamin Netanyahu speaks in the wake of the election.AFP

With nearly all votes counted, Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party is set to emerge as the election's big winner with 30 seats. The Zionist Union trails behind with 24 seats. The Joint List of Arab parties is the third-largest party at this point, followed by Yesh Atid, Kulanu, Habayit Hayehudi, Shas, Yisrael Beiteinu, United Torah Judaism, Meretz and Yahad.

President Reuven Rivlin said he would work for a national unity government. 

Ballots were cast at 10,372 polling stations throughout Israel. There are 5,881,696 Israelis (citizens over the age of 18) who were eligible to vote today for the 20th Knesset. 

Latest opinion and analyses: Netanyahu resorts to race-baiting in attempt to win electionsNetanyahu, Herzog fight Election Day battle of the gapA last-minute bid to block Netanyahu’s ‘rescue me’ campaign (Yossi Verter) | A black hole at core of Israeli electoral politics (Aluf Benn).

Live updates:

11:15 A.M. Labor MK Shelly Yacimovich says Isaac Herzog told her that the Zionist Union won't join a Likud-led government. "This morning I spoke with Herzog and he explicitly told me that we are going to the opposition," she told Army Radio.

Clockwise from left: Isaac Herzog, Benjamin Netanyahu, Ayman Odeh and Moshe Kahlon.Reuters, AFP, Rami Shllush
Netanyahu at the Western Wall Photo by Emil Salman

Yacimovich, a former Labor leader, says, following the election results, that teaming up with Tzipi Livni was a right call, but argued that too many concessions were made. (Jonathan Lis)

10:45 A.M. Meretz No. 2 Ilan Gilon says he does not accept Galon's resignation and is not prepared to take on chairmanship of the party in her stead. (Haaretz)

9:56 A.M. Meretz chief Zehava Galon officially announces that she will resign from chairmanship in the wake of the election results. 

9:30 A.M. Senior Palestinian officials tell Haaretz that the fact Israelis reelected Netanyahu after he declared that there will be no Palestinian state means that Israel is not a partner for peace. The international community needs to realize that and stop defending Netanyahu and his policy, they added. (Jack Khoury) Read full story

8:54 A.M. Zionist Union MK Stav Shafir says in a Facebook post: "We will serve the people from the opposition." (Haaretz)

8:44 A.M. Isaac Herzog says he called Netanyahu and congratulated him for the election results. "Nothing has changed, we will keep fighting for a just society." Herzog refused to explicitly say that the Zionist Union won't join a Netanyahu-led government. (Haaretz)

8:32 A.M. Moshe Kahlon: "Netanyahu spoke with me and said his intentions are serious. I am waiting for the results. There were never any personal issues, only differences in ideology that I hope to resolve now with a government focused on social aspects."

7:45 A.M. Zionist Union's Herzog and Livni: "This is not an easy morning for us and for those who believe in our way. We will lead the fight, together with our partners in Knesset, for the values believe in. We will fight on behalf of the citizens of Israel for social justice, diplomatic horizon, equality and democracy in hope that we can maintain a just, safe Jewish and democratic state. We thank from the bottom of our heart to all those who believe in us and in our way."

6:50 A.M. Meretz leader Zehava Galon says if final results give Meretz four seats, she will resign from Knesset in order to allow Tamar Zandberg to remain MK (Ilan Lior).

6:06 A.M. With 99 percent of the ballots counted, Likud is increasing its lead with 30 Knesset seats, compared to the Zionist Union's 24.

The Joint List, the third-largest party, gets 14 seats, followed by Yesh Atid with 11, Kulanu with 10, Habayit Hayehudi with eight, Shas with seven, United Torah Judaism with six, Yisrael Beiteinu with six, and Meretz with four. It appears at this point that Yahad has not crossed the electoral threshold. (Haaretz) 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu waves to supporters at party headquarters in Tel Aviv, March 18, 2015. Photo: Reuters

4:30 A.M. Likud increases its lead over the Zionist Union as the vote count nears completion. (Haaretz)

3:23 A.M. With 60 percent of votes counted, Likud leads with 23.73 percent over Zionist Union's 19.07 percent. Yesh Atid stands at 8.92 percent, the Joint List at 9.63 percent, Kulanu at 7.53 percent, Habayit Hayehudi at 6.4 percent, Shas at 5.88 percent, Yisrael Beiteinu at 5.26 percent, United Torah Judaism at 5.15 percent, Meretz at 3.95 percent and Yahad at 3.04 percent.

2:45 A.M. Some 71.3 percent of Israeli soldiers voted on Tuesday, a 2.3 percent bump compared to the 2013 election. The rate does not include soldiers voting in civilian polling stations. (Gili Cohen)

2:30 A.M. The chief Palestinian negotiator expects Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to form the next Israeli government and has declared that the Palestinians in turn will push forward with diplomatic efforts at the International Criminal Court.

“It is clear that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will form the next government, and for that, we say clearly that we will go to the Hague Tribunal, we will accelerate, continue and intensify” diplomatic efforts, top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told Agence France-Presse. (JTA)

1:10 A.M. Netanyahu: "Dear friends, against all odds we have achieved a great victory for Likud, for the national camp which is headed by Likud, for our people. I am proud of the Israeli people, who recognized what's important … and stood up for real security, economy and social welfare, which we are committed to.

"This is what's important to… everyone, Jews and non-Jews alike," he said. "All of you are important to me.

"Now we must form a strong and stable government that will care for the security and welfare of all of Israel's citizens," he said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu kisses his wife, Sara, as he addresses supporters. Photo: Tomer Appelbaum

12:25 A.M. Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid: "We are the biggest centrist party, and will remain a political force for many years to come."

12:16 A.M. Zionist Union Chairman Isaac Herzog on the exit polls:  "These results will bring Labor back into power." He calls on the "social parties" to unite under him to form "a real reconciliation government."

"This is a big victory for the Labor Party, which hasn't done this well since Yitzhak Rabin won in 1992."

Referring to his efforts to from a governing coalition, Herzog says "no decision will be made tonight. We have formed a negotiating team." (Haaretz) 

Zionist Union party co-leaders Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni. Photo by AP

12:20 A.M. Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman says his party's five Knesset seats are a triumph over attempts to "take out" his "entire party."

Lieberman says the close election results are further proof that Israel needs a different system of government.

Shas Chairman Arye Dery says this election has been the "toughest we have ever experienced."

"This was a great battle for legacy, a struggle for a path, a struggle of leadership, a very tough struggle," he said. "But, thank God, the way of the truth won, the Torah's way won."

He said that he made efforts to unite with Eli Yishai, but the latter resisted.

Zionist Union MK Shelly Yacimovich suggests that Shas and Moshe Kahlon's Kulanu may join a government led by Isaac Herzog.

"You treat Kahlon like he's in Netanyahu's pocket, and Shas like it's clearly with Netanyahu," she said in an interview with Channel 2. "People say a lot of things before the election. It's possible that they will understand that they could fulfil their desires under Herzog as prime minister."

12:15 P.M. Kulanu Chairman Moshe Kahlon says he will work with any party working on social, economic lines.

"This election has caused rifts and polarization in our nation. This is the time to mend, to unite," he says. (Haaretz)

12:10 A.M. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman talk. (Jonathan Lis)

11:59 P.M. Channel 1's corrected exit polls indicate Eli Yishai's Yahad party has crossed the electoral threshold with four Knesset seats.

The corrected polls show that Likud has gotten 27 seats, the Zionist Union 26, the Joint List 12, Yesh Atid 11, and Kulanu nine. (Haaretz)

11:54 P.M. Hamas: Elections should convince Abbas to abandon talks with Israel

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas should abandon negotiations with Israel following the elections in the Jewish State, Hamas official Ismail Radwan says in the Gaza Strip.

"The results should be enough to convince the Palestinian Authority and Fatah Party to forget about the choice of keeping the absurd negotiations," he says in a statement. (DPA)

11:34 P.M. Kulanu Chairman Moshe Kahlon says on Twitter that his party's election result is a "great success." 

11:27 P.M. Zionist Union Chairman Isaac Herzog is holding talks with potential coalition partners as part of an effort to form a broad government that excludes Netanyahu and Bennett.

The Zionist Union says Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's and Habayit Hayehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett's celebration is premature, claiming the rightist bloc has "crashed." 

11:21 P.M. The 2015 election had 71.8% voter turnout, up from 67.8% in the 2013 election. The 2009 election had 65.2% voter turnout, compared to 63.2% in the 2006 election (Ofra Edelman).

11:15 P.M. Avigdor Lieberman on whether he will join a coalition headed by Netanyahu: "Why not? ... we should join the friends who worked hard and gave everything they could. We can't talk of defeat, it was a difficult journey."

11:00 P.M. Joint List Chairman Ayman Odeh: "The list is a success story. More than 65% of the Arab public voted, and that was a positive referendum for the list and its future."

The party expected to get 14-15 Knesset seats, but has gotten 13, according to the preliminary results. 

MK Ahmad Tibi of the Joint List: "The general result is disappointing, but the Joint List has won the support of the public, Marzel has disappeared and the public said Nyet to Lieberman."

MK Ya'akov Litzman, head of United Torah Judaism, told Channel 2 that he is awaiting tomorrow morning's decision from the Council of Torah Sages on whether his party's six seats will be part of the next government. (Haaretz) 

10:57 P.M. Habayit Hayehudi leader Naftali Bennett, whose party won a disappointing eight Knesset seats according to the exit polls, said his party is a "long distance runner."

"We are long distance runners. We're not afraid and we're not lowering our heads," Bennett said, adding he is proud of his public, the religious Zionists. (Haaretz) 

10:53 P.M. Likud officials estimate: Netanyahu will work for coalition with Herzog

Likud officials estimated Netanyahu will work toward forming a national unity government with Zionist Union's Isaac Herzog.

"Netanyahu doesn't want a unity government, but sometimes you find yourself with no choice. In this case, the most likely scenario is that the prime minister will agree to pay Zionist Union a heavy price, among other things, leaving Bennett or Lieberman in the opposition, to make it easier for Herzog to make the move agreeable for his party. (Jonathan Lis) 

10:48 P.M. Kulanu leader Moshe Kahlon told Likud's Benjamin Netanyahu and Zionist Union's Isaac Herzog that he will decide on his next move only after the full results are tallied.

Kahlon's party won 10 Knesset seats according to the exit polls. 

10:40 P.M. Zionist Union: Everything's possible until the real results are in

Zionist Union, which gained 27 Knesset seats according to the exit polls, said in response: "Likud keeps misleading. The rightist bloc has shrunk. Everything is possible until the real results are in, when we can know which parties passed the electoral threshold and which government we can form. All the spins and statements are premature. A negotiating team has been formed in an effort to form a government led by Herzog."

Meretz, which gained five Knesset seats according to the exit polls, called on Zionist Union's Isaac Herzog not to form a unity government with Benjamin Netanyahu. (Gili Cohen)

10:35 P.M. Netanyahu announces 'great victory, against all odds'

Likud leader and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to the exit polls, which gave his party 27 Knesset seats, a tie with Zionist Union, announcing a "great victory for Likud."

"Against all odds, a great victory for Likud, a great victory for the nationalist camp headed by Likud, a great victory for the nation of Israel," Netanyahu said in a Facebook post. (Haaretz) 

10:25 P.M. Netanyahu and Bennett agree to start negotiations for right-wing government

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Habayit Hayehudi's Naftali Bennett several minutes after the exit polls were released. The two agreed to initiate accelerated negotiations to establish a right-wing government. (Haaretz)

10:08 P.M. President Rivlin says would work for national unity gov't

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin made clear to political officials on Tuesday evening that he would work for a national unity government.

"I am convinced that only a unity government can prevent the rapid disintegration of Israel's democracy and new elections in the near future," Rivlin said. (Yossi Verter)

10:00 P.M. Exit polls: Zionist Union and Likud neck and neck at 27 seats, slight lead for Likud

Channel 10 and Channel 1 both gave Likud and Zionist Union 27 Knesset seats, while Channel 2's exit poll gave 28 seats to Likud, and 27 to Zionist Union.

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said final tally may not be published until Friday. For full results of exit polls click here

9:28 P.M. Zionist Union "very carefully optimistic," officials say 

Officials in the Zionist Union voiced "very careful optimism" with their projections of the election results. A party official said the voter turnout in their bases have been relatively good.

The far right Yahad party, however, issued an urgent call to its supporters, calling on them to vote as their polls show they are only 1,500 short of crossing the electoral threshold. (Ido Efrati) 

Zionist Union headquarters in Tel Aviv (Moti Milrod)

9:20 P.M. Likud MK praises high voter turnout in Arab sector

After Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged his supporters to go and vote, warning that his rule is in danger because "the Arab are voting in droves," Likud MK Gila Gamliel expressed her happiness with reports of high voter turnout among Arab citizens.

"I praise the high voter turnout in the non-Jewish sector. I'm glad. It gives them a sense of belonging and a will to change. Maybe it won't be expressed as support for Likud, but it will make different parties understand they should relate more to this public and put the treatment of Israeli Arabs in the foreground," Gamliel said. (Jonathan Lis)  

8:59 P.M. Over 80% of Israeli prisoners cast their ballots (Yaniv Kubovich)

8:33 P.M. Voter turnout at 8 P.M. stands at 65.7%, up from 63.9% in 2013 (Haaretz)

Attorney Elad Naveh, who runs the control room of the Central Elections Committee, explained that the voting data is based on 9,000 polling stations across Israel, not a sample of 400, like in previous elections, making the data more accurate. (Ofra Edelman)

8:07 P.M. "Hamas" called on Israeli Arabs to vote, endorsing the Joint List (JTA)

A Twitter account purporting to be the official account of the Hamas' armed wing called on Israeli Arabs to vote for the Joint List.

7:51 P.M. Palestinians march in West Bank in effort to send message to Israel on Election Day

Earlier, Palestinians, joined by Israelis and foreigners, marched near the West Bank town of Abu Dis, in effort to send a message against the settlements on Election Day, AFP reported.

The demonstrators clashed with Israeli security forces, and some demonstrators were detained, AFP reported. (Haaretz) 

7:41 P.M. IDF soldiers' voter turnout 59% at 17:00, 4% increase on 2013 (Haaretz)

7:30 P.M. Herzog: Netanyahu is a 'lying, divisive, inciting prime minister'

Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is "panicking," adding that his "lies" earlier on Tuesday prove that he is a "hysterical, divisive, inciting prime minister."

In a Facebook post, Herzog urged voters to "join the upheaval," so that Israel "won't wake up tomorrow morning with the same lying, divisive, inciting prime minister." (Haaretz) 

Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni, at a polling station in Ramat Gan (Moti Milrod)

6:50 P.M. Netanyahu slams election panel decision to bar his address from the airwaves

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said "no one will shut us up," after the Central Elections Committee barred the media from airing his address, deeming it "illegal election propaganda."

"All day, politicians have been talking in the media. Tzipi, Bougi and Yair Lapid talked in every possible TV studio and issued obvious campaign propaganda. The only one barred from talking over the media – is me. The Likud prime minister," Netanyahu said in a Facebook post.

It should be noted that Netanyahu appeared earlier on Tuesday on a Channel 10 talk show.

In his statement, posted on his Facebook page, Netanyahu called on his supporters to vote, saying the margin between Likud and the Zionist Union is due to "foreign funds" funneled to "leftist groups."

Netanyahu also referred to his earlier statements that "the right's regime is in danger. The Arabs are moving in droves to the polling stations." Netanyahu said that there's nothing wrong with Jewish and Arab citizens voting as they see fit, but accused "funds from foreign governments and organizations" of being used to bring Arab voters "en masse" to the polling stations.

According to Netanyahu, this skews the elections in the left's favor, giving power to the "extremist Arab list," meaning the Joint List, headed by Israeli Arab Ayman Odeh. (Haaretz)

6:43 P.M. Voter turnout at 6 P.M. stands at 54.6% (Haaretz)

Attorney Elad Naveh, who runs the control room of the Central Elections Committee, explained that the voting data is based on 9,000 polling stations across Israel, not a sample of 400, like in previous elections, making the data more accurate. (Ofra Edelman)

6:10 P.M. Netanyahu press conference banned from airwaves

The Central Elections Committee has issued an injunction against live broadcasting a statement by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later this evening.

Netanyahu's office announced the prime minister intends to make a statement at 5:45 P.M. The Zionist Union and Yesh Atid parties petitioned the committee against the broadcast. According to the committee's head, Justice Salim Joubran, the statement qualifies as election propaganda, and is therefore banned. (Haaretz) 

6:00 P.M. Bennett says 'foreign funds' financing leftist push at polling stations

Habayit Hayehudi Chairman Neftali Bennett accused the left of receiving "foreign funds" to finance their campaign, saying "foreign nationals" are present at the polling stations, encouraging voters to cast their ballots in favor of leftist parties.

In a video posted on his Facebook page, Bennett urged the right's supporters to head to the polling stations and cast their ballots in favor of his party, saying that polling stations considered as traditional strongholds of the right have registered low voter turnout. (Haaretz) 

Naftali Bennett (Emil Salman)

5:50 P.M. Bar Refaeli calls on Israelis to go vote

Supermodel Bar Refaeli called on Israelis to vote, tweeting: "We voted. If you didn't vote yet, there's still time, just don't give it up."

4:53 P.M. Voter turnout at 4 P.M. stands at 45.4% (Haaretz)

Attorney Elad Naveh, who runs the control room of the Central Elections Committee, explained that the voting data is based on 9,000 polling stations across Israel, not a sample of 400, like in previous elections, making the data more accurate. (Ofra Edelman)

4:39 P.M. Shas slams injunction against its 'key to heaven'

Shas responded to the Central Elections Committee's injunction against its flyers promising those who vote for the party a "key to heaven."

"Prayers, mezuzot, and talismans are an inseparable part of the tradition of the majority of citizens. We're proud of our tradition, enough with the silencing and incitement!" Shas said in a statement. (Haaretz)

(Tomer Appelbaum)

3:39 P.M. Lieberman: If you want to keep ISIS out of Israel, vote for me

Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman, touring polling stations in Ashkelon, warned that a vote for any party other than his would amount to terrorist cells rising in Israel. "Whoever wants to prevent an ISIS branch and an Al-Qaida cell in Israel must vote for Yisrael Beiteinu," he said. (Haaretz)

3:37 P.M. MK Dov Khenin accuses Netanyahu of racism and incitement against Arab voters

Joint List candidate and MK Dov Khenin petitioned the Central Elections Committee to remove the Likud campaign that casts Arab voters in a negative light.

"A prime minister who campaigns against voting by citizens belonging to an ethnic minority is crossing a red line of incitement and racism. This is especially severe on Election Day, when the message to Israeli citizens is to participate in the elections, vote, and take part in the democratic system. A statement like that, issued by the prime minister, shows that he has completely lost his way and that he is ready to break all the principles of democracy to safeguard his regime."

Meretz chairwoman Zehava Galon also slammed the prime minister, sharing his Facebook post and commenting laconically, "Serious warning: Israeli citizens are voting in the elections." (Haaretz)

Joint List leader Ayman Odeh casts his ballot with his kids (Reuters)

3:21 P.M. As of 12 o'clock Tuesday, 29 percent of Israeli soldiers have cast their vote, almost three percent more than in the last elections. (Gili Cohen)

3:19 P.M. Herzog and Livni at the polling stations: Feel like we're going to make it

Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni, heads of the Zionist Union, have been touring polling stations across Israel since Tuesday morning. "I really feel that we're going to make it, I see that people are not just saying good luck to me out of politeness, they hold me and actually pray," Livni told Haaretz.

Herzog has been sticking to two lines on Tuesday, the first being that the voter has to decide between Netanyahu's despair and failure, and his change and hope; the second being an effort to engage Yesh Atid voters: "One less Knesset seat for Yesh Atid won't change anything. One more seat for us could give us the power to form the government," he said, adding: "I turn to Lapid's voters, if you want him in the government, you have to give us the power." (Nir Hasson) 

2:40 P.M. Voter turnout as of 2 P.M. stands at 36.7% (Haaretz)

2:35 P.M. Lieberman responds to Netanyahu on Twitter

Avigdor Lieberman on Twitter: "Netanyahu also knows that if the Arabs are voting in droves, only a strong Lieberman can stop them." (Barak Ravid)

2:20 P.M. Signs of increased voter turnout among Arab Israelis

There are signs of increased voter turnout among the Arab-Israeli population relative to the previous election. There are reports of long lines outside polling stations in Arab villages and towns, although officials from the Joint List are reluctant to express too much optimism. Joint List chairman Ayman Odeh recently sent a message to party activists informing them of the apparent upward trend, though he also cautioned against being too complacent. (Jack Khoury)

Israelis, enjoying their day off for the election, flocking to malls. Photo by Ofer Vaknin

1:45 P.M. Netanyahu: Right-wing gov't in danger - Arabs voting in droves

Likud is troubled over high voter turnout in the Arab community. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently uploaded a video to his Facebook page in which he said: "The right-wing government is in danger. Arab voters are coming out in droves to the polls. Left-wing organizations are busing them out. We have no V15, we have Order 8 [code for emergency call up to IDF reserve duty], we have only you. Get out to vote, bring your friends and family, vote Likud in order to close the gap between us and 'Labor.'"


An Arab woman voting in northern Israel (Gil Eliyahu)

1:20 P.M. Yisrael Beiteinu is filing a petition with the Central Elections Committee, claiming that party activists were assaulted outside polling stations in Nazareth, Baka al-Garbiyeh, Kafr Kara and Sakhnin. Also, the party claims that its representatives with entry permits were not allowed into many polling stations in Arab villages. "Yisrael Beiteinu strongly condemns attempts to falsely alter the election results within the Arab community and violently prevent Zionist party representatives from observing and preserving the election's integrity in Arab villages." (Barak Ravid)

1:09 P.M. Central Elections Committee orders Shas to cease distributing flyers claiming that Rabbi Ovadia Yosef says a vote for Shas is a key to heaven. (Ofra Edelman)

A message, supposedly from Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. 'Those who vote Shas will go straight to heaven.'. Photo by Eliyahu Hershkovitz

12:56 P.M. Voter turnout as of 12:00 P.M. stands at 26.5%.

12:25 P.M. Likud response to the Central Elections Committee's statement on old recording of Moshe Kahlon endorsing Likud: "There is, nor was there, any forged video clips. The clip was an old recording of actual remarks made by Moshe Kahlon two years ago, in which he praised Prime Minister Netanyahu for his economic and social achievements. In every election campaign it is customary to quote politicians' previous statements. At the same time, Likud honors the Central Elections Committee's ruling and will honor it."

11:21 A.M. As of 10:00 A.M, 13.7% of voters have cast their ballots, which is over 20 percent higher than the voter turnout at that hour than in the previous two elections. (Haaetz)

11: 05 A.M. Activists from Eli Yishai's Yahad party filed a petition with the Central Elections Committee, accusing Shas of distributing threatening notices to voters planning to cast their ballot for Yahad. Party activists also reported on Tuesday morning that many of the party's ballots were removed from polling booths. (Ido Efrati)

10:55 A.M. Moshe Kahlon comments on Likud's illegal use of recordings. "It's a shame they sunk so low. That's not the way, that's not democracy. Even in campaigns there are limits and red lines. Here, they crossed all of them." 

10:52 A.M. Meretz chairwoman Zehava Galon casts her ballot in Petah Tikvah. "I trust Meretz voters, and we are entering a new age. Metretz voters know that either there will be a Knesset without Meretz, or a government with Meretz. In order for that to happen, all Meretz voters who considered voting for the Zionist Union must vote Meretz – we will be big and strong, and only that will make Herzog prime minister," said Galon.

Zehava Galon casts her ballot in the 2015 election. Photo by Nir Keidar

10:50 A.M. Joint List chairman Ayman Oudeh casts his ballot. "Like every Arab citizen today I'm excited to vote and be aprt of history at a turning point that will fundamentally change the reality of life specificallyfor Arab citizens, but for all citizens in the country as well. I call on everyone to go out and vote this morning, and to believe that it can be better here. That we, Arabs and Jews can create a better future for our children." (Jack Khoury)

Ayman Oudeh casts his ballot in the 2015 election. Photo by Rami Shlush

MK Haneen Zoabi casts her ballot in the 2015 election. Photo by Gil Eliyahu

10:40 A.M.  As of 9:00 A.M., 7.4% of eligible voters have cast their ballots.

10:26 A.M. MK Dov Khenin casts his ballot in Tel Aviv. "In order to bring down the right-wing government, advance peace, equality and justice, we must give a stern answer to the politics of incitement, hate and racism." (Jonathan Lis)

MK Dov Khenin casts his ballot in the 2015 election. Photo by Jonathan Lis

10:05 A.M. Central Elections Committee chief orders Likud to pay damages to Kahlon

Supreme Court Justice Salim Joubran, who also serves as head of the Central Elections Committee, ruled on Tuesday morning that the Likud illegally used on Monday an old recording of Kulanu chairman Moshe Kahlon calling on the public to vote for Likud. Joubran called the use of the recording "gross deception" of voters, ordered Likud to pay Kahlon damages amounting to 20,000 shekels and issued an order prohibiting Likud from using the recording or publishing it on any media whatsoever. (Ofra Edelman)

9:10 A.M. The website for the Central Elections Committee has crashed, less than two hours after the polls opened, due to heavy traffic.

Giora Furdis, committee spokesperson told Haaretz that the servers are expected to come back online in the next hour. (Ofra Edelman)

9:05 A.M. Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman casts his ballot. "I call on all Israelis to go out and vote for any Zionist party, it doesn't matter if it's Meretz, or Yisrael Beiteinu or Habayit Hayehudi, the most important thing is to go out and vote for a Zionist party to preserve the Jewish Zionist character of the State of Israel."  

Avigdor Lieberman casts his ballot in the 2015 election. Photo by Yisrael Beiteinu spokesperson

8:55 A.M. Zionist Union co-chairman Tzipi Livni casts her ballot in Tel Aviv. "There's great excitement ahead of this historic revolution, Israeli citizens must go out and vote for the future, these are elections between Zionism and extremism, and only that will determine the identity of the next prime minister." (Jonathan Lis)

Tzipi Livni casts her ballot in the 2015 election. Photo by David Bachar

8:50 A.M. Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid casts his ballot in Ramat Aviv. "We are here hoping that at the end of the day, we won't have a government of Bibi, Bougie and the Haredim, that will sell out all of Israel's assets, return funding to the yeshivot, do away with equality in sharing the national burden, and resume taking public funds meant to combat crowding in classrooms, to help single mothers and daycare, and use those funds for political blackmailing. That's why Yesh Atid was founded, to fight for civilians." (Yarden Skop) 

Yair Lapid casts his ballot in the 2015 election. Photo by Ofer Vaknin

8:35 A.M. Kulanu chairman Moshe Kahlon casts his ballot in Haifa. "A long, intense campaign has come to an end. Today is the first time that I'm not voting Likud, but I'm doing it with a whole heart. We feel great, we reached our peak at the right time, and I'm sure the results will surprise everyone. (Nir Hasson)

Moshe Kahlon casts his ballot in the 2015 election. Photo by Rami Shllush

8:30 A.M. Zionist Union co-chairman Isaac Herzog casts his ballot in Tel Aviv. "We're celebrating democracy. We must remember that Israel is a democracy in which the people decide, these elections are a decision between hope and change, and desperation and disappointment. Those who want to continue on Bibi's path of disappointment should vote for him, those who want change should vote for the Zionist Union and give me the opportunity to create change." (Nir Hasson)

Isaac Herzog casts his ballot in the 2015 election. Photo by Moti Milrod

8:20 A.M. Arye Dery casts his ballot in Jerusalem "This is the day we've waited for. We worked very hard for this day, and with God's help we hope that our work will bring results, and I hope that the results will be a surprise for the pollsters."

Aryeh Deri casts his ballot in the 2015 election. Photo by Olivier Fitoussi

7:52 A.M. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after casting his ballot: "Many are asking me who I will call first thing after the election. My first phone call will be to Miryam Peretz, and the second will be to Naftali Bennett, to start forming a government led by the nationalist camp. There will be no unity government with the left led by Labor." (Jonathan Lis)

Benjamin Netanyahu casts his ballot. Photo by Marc Israel Salem

Sara Netanyahu casts her ballot in the 2015 election. Photo by Marc Israel Salem






7:40 A.M. Habayit Hayehudi chairman Naftali Bennett casts his ballot in Ra’anana. "This morning I put on my tefillin and prayed for the people of Israel to be united, for the people of Israel to be strong. Today is our day. This is the day for those who love the land of Israel, this is the day for those who love our flag, this is the day for those who love our country, this is our day. Today, Israel lifts its head. I'm missing my friend, Uri Orbach, of blessed memory, this morning. He once said 'Habayit Hayehudi is not a bridge to be walked on, but rather a bridge that connects people.' The people of Israel will be connected."

Naftali Bennett casts his ballot. Photo by Tomer Appelbaum

7:00 A.M. Israelis begin casting their ballots as polls open throughout Israel.

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