Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared to fall short of a governing majority in Israel’s election, raising doubts Wednesday over whether he could maintain his decade long grip on power, NBC News reports.
After 90 percent of the votes were counted, Netanyahu’s center-right Likud party was expected to win 31 seats, while its main rival the centrist Blue and White party was pushing ahead on 32 seats, according to the Central Election Committee.
Both Netanyahu’s right-wing bloc and Blue and White’s centrist and left-wing block were set to fall short of the 61 seats needed to form a governing coalition in the 120-seat parliament, known as the Knesset.
The result could have huge implications for the Middle East at a time of renewed tensions between the United States and Iran, the news outlet adds.
A close ally of President Donald Trump, Netanyahu is likely to continue to pursue his hard-line stance toward Palestinians if he remains prime minister, putting a two-state solution further out of reach.
Blue and White leader Benny Gantz, a former army chief of staff, has campaigned on a promise of clean government and social harmony. He has called for pursuing peace with Palestinians while maintaining Israeli security.
Also in play is the fact that Netanyahu could potentially be indicted in three corruption cases. If he remains prime minister, Netanyahu may be able to pass legislation that would grant him immunity, but if he loses he may have to appear in court and even face time in jail, NBC News noted.