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Netanyahu and his far-right supporters anticipate winning the election.

Netanyahu and his far-right supporters anticipate winning the election.

Netanyahu and his far-right supporters anticipate winning the election.

Netanyahu and his far-right supporters anticipate winning the election.

Jerusalem: With early election results showing Benjamin Netanyahu’s alliance with the extreme right establishing a slim lead, the veteran Israeli leader looked to be on the verge of winning re-election on Wednesday.

According to the Central Elections Committee, 84 percent of the votes had been counted as of 7:55 GMT, which suggests that Netanyahu may be in line for a stunning return.

At a rally early on Wednesday, he told members of his right-wing Likud party, “We are near to a tremendous victory.”

The interim prime minister and his primary competitor, Yair Lapid, meanwhile, warned his own supporters in Tel Aviv that “nothing is decided” and that his centrist Yesh Atid party “will wait patiently… for the final results.”

Following the country’s sixth election in four years, the two adversaries are battling for a majority coalition in the 120-seat parliament of Israel, with early results favouring Netanyahu’s party.

The ascent of Itamar Ben-extreme-right Gvir’s Religious Zionism bloc, which made significant gains and is predicted to become the third-largest party, has encouraged the former premier.

Rivals of Israel’s longest-serving premier clutch their breath as the front page of the powerful Yediot Aharonot daily in Israel read, “Netanyahu seeks a clear victory; Lapid hopes for a draw, Ben-Gvir celebrates.”

Small parties, however, are perilously close to crossing the election threshold even though their support might be important in coalition negotiations.

The margins seem to be razor-thin, and past elections have demonstrated that minute changes made during the count may make or break a government.

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