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Benjamin Netanyahu and the opposition leader, Benny Gantz, have begun what could be a prolonged period of high-stakes political bartering after an inconclusive election in Israel showed neither had a clear path to form a coalition.
Many Israelis hoped the poll, the second in five months, would provide clarity and pull the nation out of a political crisis. But the muddy results that trickled in on Wednesday appeared to deadlock the country instead.
With Israeli media reporting more than 90% of the vote counted, Gantz’s Blue and White party had 32 seats while its rival Likud had 31.
Both leaders have vowed to lead Israel’s next government, but would need to form unlikely alliances with smaller parties to do so.
Netanyahu wants to extend his record-breaking stretch as prime minister by forging pacts with religious politicians and far-right ultra-nationalists.