Incumbent Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has lost today’s general election to his biggest rival Benny Gantz.
Gantz has emerged victorious in the first exit polls, which survey voters but are not the final result. The exit polls have been known to change, but mark the first indication of voting patterns after the country’s polling stations closed at 22:00 local time [19:00 GMT, 20:00 BST].
In an i24 news poll, Benny Gantz’s Blue and White (Kahol Lavan) alliance received 33 seats, putting his party in first place, while Netanyahu has been placed second with 27 seats.
Meanwhile a poll by Israel’s Channel 12 put Gantz’s lead over Netanyahu even wider, predicting 37 seats for Gantz and 33 for Netanyahu.
Other shock results include the fact that two high-profile parties could be out of the Knesset and might have failed to pass the 3.25% minimum threshold needed. First is former Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party, while the second is Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked’s New Right (Hayemin Hehadash) party.
Exit polls and analysis will continue throughout the night until the official results are announced in the early hours of the morning.
Update at 8.17am GMT: Netanyahu claims right-wing bloc won Israeli election
Update at 12.56pm GMT: Gantz and Netanyahu are tied on 35 seats each. But right-wing parties back Netanyahu; willing to form a government under him