Head of the Yisrael Beiteinu party Avigdor Lieberman has taken advantage of the similar number of seats won by Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party in parliament and his main rival, ex-military chief Benny Gantz's centrist Blue and White alliance, by demanding political compromises.
Lieberman announced he would advise President Reuven Rivlin to pick Netanyahu to form a government but not before the PM pledges to approve a plan to liquidate Hamas movement.
Following this announcement, Lieberman left the country for a long private trip to an east European country.
He warned that if Netanyahu does not agree to his demand, then he will face a serious crisis.
After counting 98 percent of the votes, each of Netanyahu and Gantz’s parties won 35 seats in the Knesset. The two ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) parties, Shas and United Torah Judaism, have gained 16 seats up 33 percent from 13 seats in the last elections, giving them greater negotiating power.
They were followed by Arab MPs, whose number of seats declined to 10 from 13 in 2015 when they ran under one alliance.
The centrist-left Labor Party received only six seats in this election down from 24 seats in the last polls. The party is chaired by Avi Gabbay, who is considered the first and historic leader of the Zionist movement and founder of the Jewish state.
The rest of the seats were distributed as follows: Meretz and the Union of Right-Wing Parties won five seats each, United Torah Judaism won seven seats and Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu won four seats.
According to these results, a bloc led by the Likud would secure 65 seats in the 120-strong Knesset. A center-left bloc led by the Blue and White party, supported by the Arab parties, would only muster 55 seats.
However, these results are not considered final or official as the ballots of 320,000 votes have not yet been counted from Tuesday's vote.
Final results will be published in the Official Gazette on Wednesday after which Rivlin will begin his talks and consultations with heads of Israel’s blocs to listen to their choice and then appoint a prime minister.
Since Gantz and Netanyahu won the same number of seats, Rivlin will likely assign the incumbent to form the government.