JERUSALEM (JTA) — Zionist Union head Isaac Herzog called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and conceded defeat in Israel’s national elections.
On Wednesday morning, Herzog told reporters outside his home that he spoke by phone with Netanyahu and “congratulated him on his achievement and wished him good luck.”
“The nation has had its say, and we have to respect that,” Herzog said.
With 99 percent of the ballots counted, the Likud Party surged overnight to 30 seats, while the Zionist Union dropped from initial exit poll data to 24.
Netanyahu reportedly spoke with the leaders of the parties likely to become part of a right-wing government coalition, including the Jewish Home, Yisrael Beiteinu, Shas and United Torah Judaism.
Also Wednesday, Meretz chairwoman Zahava Gal-On said that if the party’s number of seats remains at four, she would give up her Knesset seat and quit politics, remaining as the left-wing party’s leader until it elects a new chair. With its four seats, down from six in 2013, Meretz just broke the threshold to be included in the Knesset.
Final election results will be confirmed on Thursday morning.