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In close race, Benjamin Netanyahu appears to have edged out rival to win record 5th term as Israel’s leader




Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, accompanied by his wife Sara, greets supporters on election night at his Likud Party headquarters in the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv early on April 10, 2019.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, accompanied by his wife Sara, greets supporters on election night at his Likud Party headquarters in the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv early on April 10, 2019.
THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images

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Benjamin Netanyahu appears headed toward a historic fifth term as Israel's prime minister, with close-to-complete unofficial election results giving his right-wing Likud and other nationalist and religious parties a solid majority in parliament.

The outcome affirmed Israel's continued tilt to the right and further dimmed hopes of a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Re-election will give Netanyahu an important boost as he braces for the likelihood of criminal charges in a series of corruption scandals.

With 97.4% of the vote counted Wednesday, Likud and its natural political allies commanded a 65-55 majority in parliament. However, the country now faces what could be weeks of political negotiations over the composition of a ruling coalition.

Netanyahu had fought a tight race against centrist ex-army chief Benny Gantz, who has conceded defeat.

With files from the Associated Press

Guest:

Ruth Eglash, Jerusalem correspondent covering Israel and the Palestinian territories for the Washington Post; she tweets @reglash