Israel needs strong govt: Netanyahu waits for results

Israel needs strong govt: Netanyahu waits for results

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the Likud party headquarters following the announcement of exit polls during Israel's parliamentary election in Tel Aviv, Israel September 18, 2019. (Photo by reuters)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said early Wednesday he was waiting for results in the country's general election, but that he was prepared for negotiations to form a "strong Zionist government."

"In the coming days, we will enter into negotiations to establish a strong Zionist government and to prevent a dangerous anti-Zionist government," he told supporters at a post-election rally in Tel Aviv.

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He spoke as exit polls from Tuesday's vote showed a tight race between his right-wing Likud and ex-military chief Benny Gantz's centrist Blue and White alliance.

With a hoarse voice and appearing haggard after days of intense campaigning, Netanyahu seemed to hint at openness to forming a national unity government, but did not specifically say so.

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The "anti-Zionist" reference was directed at Israel's Arab parties, with exit polls showing they could become the third-largest force in parliament.

Those parties, running under the Joint List alliance, have said they could potentially back Gantz for premier, which could block Netanyahu from receiving the chance to form a government.

Netanyahu is Israel's longest-serving prime minister. He is facing potential corruption charges in the weeks ahead, but would not be required to step down if indicted.