IslamNews – Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu could struggle to secure enough parliamentary seats to stay in power, preliminary results from Tuesday’s election show.
Local media said Mr Netanyahu’s right-wing bloc would end up with 52 seats – nine short of the threshold.
In a surprise development, an Arab party which is projected to get four seats could hold the balance of power.
The Arab party, Raam, has not declared whether it will support the efforts of Mr Netanyahu – not a natural ally – to form a governing coalition or those of the bloc of parties opposed to him remaining in office.
The Netanyahu opponents are set to win 57 seats, and although backing from Raam could give them a majority, they are fragmented and unlikely to be able to agree to work together.
Israel’s electoral system, a form of proportional representation, makes it almost impossible for a single party to win an election outright.
According to the Central Election Commission, the prime minister’s right-wing Likud party won 24.2% of the vote. The centrist Yesh Atid party of the main opposition leader, Yair Lapid, was second with 13.9%.
Israeli media reported that the tallies would result in Likud getting 30 seats in the 120-seat Knesset and Yesh Atid 17.
Mr Netanyahu’s political allies, the ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties Shas and United Torah Judaism, were projected to get nine and seven seats respectively; the centrist Blue and White party of Defence Minister Benny Gantz eight; and the centre-left Labour party and the nationalist Yamina and Yisrael Beitenu parties seven each.
The Joint List alliance of Arab parties, the New Hope party of Mr Netanyahu’s former-ally-turned-opponent Gideon Saar, the far-right Religious Zionism alliance and the left-wing Meretz party are forecast to win six apiece; and Raam four.