Photo Credit: Flash 90
Israel Beytenu party leader Avigdor Liberman speaks to the media outside his home in Nokdim, the day after the Israeli elections, September 18, 2019.

As Israelis watched their TV and computer screens with baited breath, Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu party dropped to eight mandates Wednesday night with the final vote count continuing to be updated by the Central Election Committee.

With 95 percent of the votes counted, the unofficial, preliminary results were as follows:

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Blue and White: 33
Likud: 32
Joint Arab List: 12
Shas: 9
Yisrael Beytenu: 8
United Torah Judaism: 8
Yamina: 7
Labor-Gesher: 6
Democratic Union: 5

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel has just two choices after Tuesday’s elections: “either a government led by me, or a dangerous government that relies on the Arab parties.”

After the vote Tuesday night, Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz did, in fact, reach out to the Joint Arab List.

Netanyahu told participants at a meeting of the Likud faction, “At this time, more than ever, and especially in the face of the enormous security and political challenges at hand, a government that relies on the anti-Zionist parties must not be established.”

Nevertheless, Netanyahu is still at least six mandates short of the total he needs in order to form an outright majority for a ruling coalition government, which requires a minimum of 61 seats.

President Reuven Rivlin’s office released a statement saying that his official response from Tuesday night regarding the electoral situation, was still valid:

“The president of the country will convene the factions for a round of consultations after receiving the most accurate assessment of the situation and as soon as possible.

“The president will do so in full coordination with the chairman of the Central Elections Commission and after hearing all the factions’ positions and taking into account all the relevant considerations.

“The president is aware of the need to form a government in Israel as quickly as possible and fulfill the will of the people as expressed in the election results, alongside the need to avoid a third round of elections.

Accordingly, the president will bestow a mandate to form a government after consultations and discussions with the relevant factions and party leaders.”

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.