All votes counted in Israeli election: Likud 36 seats

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The poor showing by their New Right party, which had been projected to be a major potential coalition partner, was one of the upsets of the election. Aside from a few nuances and the uncertainties regarding the formation of a new government, the one overall conclusion we can draw from these elections is that we can expect to see more of the same, in other words, more fait accompli tactics being deployed by Israel and more hardships for the Palestinians. On the eve of the elections, he pledged to annex the settlements in the West Bank. Eliot Engel and Nita Lowey, both D-N.Y., Ted Deutch, D-Fla. and Brad Schneider, D-Ill., did not name Netanyahu, but alluded to his pledge that he would extend Israeli law to Jewish settlements in the West Bank - even those in remote areas that would diminish the prospects of a contiguous Palestinian state.

A final tally of votes late Thursday showed Netanyahu's Likud party capturing 36 seats in the 120-seat Knesset.

Trump is expected to release his administration's long-awaited Middle East peace plan after the election.

It was not clear what he meant. There are around 14 months left until President Trump goes into full campaign mode for his own re-election, and a strengthened Netanyahu will have more leverage than usual to create political realities for Israel's control of Palestinian land.

Tel Aviv Stock Exchange main indexes were up almost 1 percent in late trading on Wednesday, displaying confidence in a veteran prime minister who has overseen a humming economy and blunted various security threats, including from Syria. Earlier that night, Gantz had claimed victory.

The combined total of seats projected for Likud and what Netanyahu calls its "natural partners" among the right and religious Jewish parties adds up a comfortable 65 seats - a workable 5-seat majority. The final result depended on the votes of soldiers, diplomats, prisoners and hospital patients who vote in unusual circumstances. This Knesset member, who does not necessarily need to have received the most recommendations or be the head of the largest party, will then have 28 days to form a government, with the possibility of a two-week extension at the discretion of the president.

In a first, the presidential statement said Rivlin has ordered the consultations be open to public scrutiny.

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"We will stand together", Gantz said, according to the Jerusalem Post.

While ballots were still being counted, the Blue and White leaders officially conceded defeat on Wednesday, and vowed to fight the prime minister from the opposition. Only a big push in the final hours of voting secured the survival of the two primary Arab parties in Parliament.

Netanyahu, speaking Tuesday night, declared it a "tremendous victory" for his party. Mr. Netanyahu defended the practice, saying cameras helped guarantee a "legitimate" vote.

Fighting for his political life, he spent the weeks ahead of the vote campaigning furiously to energise his right-wing base.

Barring unforeseen circumstances, the task is most likely to fall to incumbent premier Benjamin Netanyahu following Tuesday's elections.

Sputnik: But if the laws are changed and if it becomes a fact that a sitting prime minister can not be prosecuted, then that means that Netanyahu will be back for his entire term and some people are saying that there's a big likelihood that that will happen; not only that, but going into the elections, some of the details of the investigations were kept quiet, they were not made public prior to elections. Whilst this does not appear to have damaged his results in the election, it could seriously compromise his future, forcing him to dedicate precious time and efforts to emerging unscathed from the bribery, fraud and breach of trust cases opened against him by the attorney general, Avichai Mendelblit.

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