Elections for the country's national legislature, the Knesset, began on Tuesday. The previous 23rd parliament convocation was automatically dissolved in late December 2020 after failing to pass a state budget on time.
By Thursday evening, the Israeli Central Elections Committee had processed 100 percent of the ballots, including those submitted in so-called "double envelopes" by diplomats, military personnel, prisoners, coronavirus patients and residents of nursing homes.
The final vote count showed that Israel's ruling Likud party, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, became the largest seat-holder in the Knesset, with 30 seats in the 120-seat governing body.
The Yesh Atid, the largest opposition party, chaired by Yair Lapid, came in second with 17 seats. An ultra-orthodox religious political party, Shas, ranked third with 9.
The centrist Blue and White political alliance became fourth largest party with 8 mandates; religious conservative alliance United Torah Judaism (UTJ), right-wing Yamina, religious conservative alliance United Torah Judaism (UTJ), Israel Labor Party and Yisrael Beiteinu garnered 7 seats each.
The newly-formed Tikva Hadasha (New Hope), the Joint List alliance of Arab parties and Religious Zionism party secured 6 mandates each, while the left-wing Meretz party secured 5. The United Arab List (Ra’am) party was not expected to reach the electoral threshold based on exit poll, but got 4 seats.
At the same time, neither supporters or opponents of Netanyahu gained the necessary parliamentary majority of 61 votes in the 120-seat Knesset. If the new convocation fails to form a government in the allocated time frame, it will also be dissolved. The next elections, which would be the fifth in less than three years, could be scheduled for the fall of 2021.