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Netanyahu election rival Gantz says will work for unity gov't

JERUSALEM, Sept 18 (Reuters) - The main election rival of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, centrist Benny Gantz, said on Wednesday that he would work toward a national unity government in a speech that lauded his party's performance but stopped short of claiming victory.

"We will wait for the actual results, but the way things stand, we've fulfilled our mission," said the former general, addressing his party in Tel Aviv. He added that Netanyahu "did not succeed in his mission."

Exit polls showed Gantz's Blue and White party leading or tied with Netanyahu's right-wing Likud, in an election race too close to call. (Reporting by Maayan Lubell; Editing by Stephen Farrell)