Benjamin Netanyahu appears headed toward a historic fifth term as Israel's prime minister, with close-to-complete unofficial election results giving his right-wing Likud and other nationalist and religious parties a solid majority in parliament.
The outcome affirmed Israel's continued tilt to the right and further dimmed hopes of a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Re-election will give Netanyahu an important boost as he braces for the likelihood of criminal charges in a series of corruption scandals.
With 97.4% of the vote counted Wednesday, Likud and its natural political allies commanded a 65-55 majority in parliament. However, the country now faces what could be weeks of political negotiations over the composition of a ruling coalition.
Netanyahu had fought a tight race against centrist ex-army chief Benny Gantz, who has conceded defeat.
With files from the Associated Press