Israel's leader Benjamin Netanyahu has survived a fight for his political life, securing a record fifth term in office according to a vote tally on Wednesday (April 10).
With most of the vote counted, Netanyahu had been running neck and neck with main rival Benny Gantz.
But despite neither of the canidates' parties capturing a majority, Netanyahu's Likud were clearly in a strong position to form a coalition with other right-wing backers.
(SOUNDBITE) (Hebrew) ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, SAYING: "I intend to quickly finish the work in order to form a national, stable government." The election was widely seen as a referendum on Netanyahu's character in the face of corruption allegations and was one of the closest fought races in years.
The man known as Bibi has been in power since 2009, but now faces possible indictments in three graft cases and has denied wrongdoing in all of them.
Earlier rival Gantz also claimed victory.
The former military chief claiming late Tuesday (April 9) night early exit polls showed his party had the lead over Likud.
(SOUNDBITE) (Hebrew) LEADER OF CENTRIST BLUE-WHITE PARTY, BENNY GANTZ, SAYING: "In elections there are losers, in elections there are winners.
And we are the winners." But by the early hours of Wednesday a clearer picture showed Netanyahu back in front.
Palestinians watching the count from the West Bank said the result showed there was little hope for a two-state solution with Israel.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) CHIEF PALESTINIAN NEGOTIATOR SAEB EREKAT, SAYING: "I think we have just witnessed a clear cut vote by the Israelis to maintain the status quo as far as we Palestinians are concerned." During the campaign, Netanyahu alarmed Palestinians by promising to annex Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank if he won.
Palestinains seek a state there and in the Gaza Strip.
The last-round of U.S. sponsored talks on a two-state solution broke down in 2014.
Final results in the count are expected by Friday (April 12).