Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will need the support of his rival Naftali Bennett from the pro-settler Yamina party to form a majority coalition after the fourth parliamentary election in two years.
With more than 80 per cent of the votes counted on Wednesday morning, Netanyahu’s right-wing conservative Likud remained the strongest parliamentary group with 31 seats.
Opposition leader Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party comes in second with 18 seats. Lapid rejects a coalition with Netanyahu.
The right-wing religious bloc around Netanyahu came to 56 out of 120 Knesset seats, while the bloc that seeks to oust the long-time premier counts 57.
The picture can still shift again as not all votes are counted, which is not expected before Friday.
Updated forecasts from three television stations showed a stalemate between the two camps during the night or even a slight advantage of the camp which wants to replace Netanyahu.
In principle, the formation of a government is likely to be extremely difficult for the anti-Netanyahu camp – some potential coalition partners are far apart in terms of content.
A fifth election in the summer can therefore still not be ruled out.
Netanyahu spoke out against another election in a speech overnight and called for the formation of a stable government.
The 71-year-old said he would not exclude anyone as a potential coalition partner. (dpa/NAN)