The Polls are due to close at 10 PM Israel time (12 noon PST, 3 PM EST) and then results can start being reported. As of now, Turnout is looking to be at it's highest point since 1999 with The Times of Israel projecting a possible 70% turnout was at 55% as of 4 PM Israel Time.
On social media and throughout the nation one thing I am hearing is that Likud-Betainu is NOT going to get the mandates they thought they were (Assaf called this one on Sunday). Haaretz is running a "liveblog". Sources there are saying Likud-Betainu may get as few as 31 Mandates (down from 42 they currently hold though it is still way to early to tell):
According to Haaretz:
7.52 P.M. Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu officials are trading accusations, imputing the responsibility for the electoral failure of their joint ticket.
5:33 P.M. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tells Haaretz that voter turnout in Likud strongholds in Israel are low, highlighting the growing fear within his party that it's heading for collapse. As the evening wears on, Netanyahu is continuing his efforts to awaken Likud voters across the country.
5.27 P.M. Likud is concerned with low turnout at the party's traditional bastions. "We're lucky if we get 31 seats," one party official said.On some other interesting notes - Yesh Atid is claiming that polling from Channel 10 shows that they will be the # 2 Party in Israel. This is of course complete speculation but it does pose some interesting questions if true.
Other stories seem to be Arab Turnout which was around 10% in some places was starting to pick up and in Nazareth has hit 44%. The Arab parties are working hard to get out the vote and in an unusual move the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Michael Sabbah has urged Arab citizens to get out to vote.
Along with this turnout on the IDF bases are also high with 60% turnout (up 13% from 2009) with five hours to go.
What will happen here is anyone's guess and depending on vote totals things could shift in the country dramatically.
A few days ago I wrote a diary based on possible coalitions... Now.... with what I am hearing. Who knows?
I will be posting updates throughout the day. I seriously hope our Israeli friends will come in and comment and share what they are hearing as well.
UPDATE # 1:
From the Times of Israel: 20:12
The Twittersphere is awash with purported leaks from the TV exit polls which, based on initial small samples, ostensibly show why Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is sounding worried.BELOW 30 SEATS... WHOA.... And where is Avodah and Livni (HaTanuah)
The leaks purport to show the Likud doing less well than even the more pessimistic final polls, falling below the 30-seat mark, and Jewish Home and Yesh Atid competing to be the second biggest party with 16 or so seats each. The leaks still show a right-wing/Orthodox bloc managing to win more than 61 seats, but only just.
UPDATE # 2
10:25 AM PT: From Haaretz: 8.08 P.M. Tzipi Livni says will pursue attempts to join forces with Labor and Yesh Atid.
8.06 P.M. Netanyahu calls on supporters: "The Likud government is in danger, go vote for us for the sake of the country's future."
1:28 AM PT: And from the U.S.:
9.21 P.M. The White House said that regardless of the results of the Israeli election, the U.S. approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would not change.
"We will continue to make clear that only through direct negotiations can the Palestinians and the Israelis ... achieve the peace they both deserve," said spokesman Jay Carney. He said the complexity of the conflict, not Obama's relationship with the Israeli leader, was the main impediment.
12:03 PM PT: AND THIS FROM HAARETZ:
9.50 P.M. Labor officials: we're not ruling out endorsing Lapid for PM.
12:06 PM PT: FIRST PROJECTIONS ARE IN:
First projections (ch. 2): Likud 31, Yesh Atid 19, Labor 17, Shas 12, Jewish House 12, Meretz 7, Livni 7, United Torah Judaism 6, Arab parties (combined) 9 -- ch, 2 calls it 61-59 for the right
3:25 PM PT: Revised figures from Channel 2:
The new prediction: Likud-Beytenu 33, Yesh Atid 18, Labor 16, Shas 12, Jewish Home 11, Hatnua 7, United Torah Judaism 7, Meretz 6, and the combined Arab parties 10.
That puts the right-wing/Orthodox bloc at 63, leaving the center-left-Arab bloc at 57.
3:57 PM PT: Lapid calling for a Left - Right Broad Coalition http://www.ynetnews.com/...
Lapid said, "There is a possibility to create a true and fair Center that listens to the other, that remembers that we are together; not at the expense of one another, but together.
"I urge the senior members of the political system to form as broad a government as possible that would unite the moderate forces from the Left and Right, so that we will be able to bring about real change in the State of Israel," he said.