The United Right, a new alliance of pro-settler lists and another likely partner in Netanyahu's coalition, gained five seats. 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. He said he would annex Jewish settlements in the West Bank - land Israel captured in 1967. It added that the four legislators hoped "that any security measures are implemented within the context of preserving the eventual possibility of a two-state solution".
Even before the results were released, there was discussion in some quarters over whether to request a recount as small right-wing factions jockeyed to get into the parliament, called the Knesset.
Throughout the campaign, Netanyahu highlighted his bond with US President Donald Trump, who has swung US policy sharply in Israel's favour and openly backed the prime minister.
It was not clear what he meant.
"I'm going to apply sovereignty, but I don't distinguish between settlement blocs and the isolated settlement points, because from my perspective every such point of settlement is Israeli", Netanyahu said during a television interview.
When Netanyahu wanted to close his deal with voters last weekend, he reached out to the right, not the center.
"This is a night of great victory". But Likud and its traditional Jewish ultra-Orthodox and nationalist allies were in command of a 65-55 majority in the Knesset, Israel's Parliament.
Final official results are expected to be announced by Friday.
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Rivlin, whose role is otherwise ceremonial, then picks the candidate he believes has the best chance of assembling a parliamentary majority, and ask that leader to form a government within 42 days.
Rivlin said he would begin consultations with party leaders next week ahead of making his decision.
"We will continue to serve the citizens of Israel, and I wish you and all of Israel a happy [upcoming Passover] holiday", Gantz told Netanyahu, according to a readout provided by a Blue and White spokesperson.
Former finance minister Yair Lapid, who co-led Blue and White, vowed to "make life bitter for the Netanyahu government". An earlier count had the two parties deadlocked.
"It is a night of colossal victory", the 69-year-old Netanyahu told cheering supporters in a late-night speech at Likud headquarters in Tel Aviv after Tuesday's vote.
In addition, Netanyahu himself, in his eagerness to rally votes, has made promises that he will find hard to keep without also endangering national interests.
It would be Netanyahu's record fifth term as premier.
But "King Bibi", as some have called him, now faces the prospect of becoming the first sitting prime minister to be indicted.