Netanyahu's future may hinge on rival

·2-min read

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's prospects for another term look uncertain after partial results from Israel's fourth national election in two years are projecting no clear path to victory.

Though an official result was still hours - or days - away, with about 88 per cent of votes counted, it appeared Netanyahu, leader of the right-wing Likud, would have to cobble together an unlikely coalition that might include Jewish ultra-Orthodox, ultra-nationalist and Arab parties to secure another term.

Barring any surprises from the remaining uncounted votes, the electoral landscape raised the likelihood of yet another national ballot.

Tuesday's vote followed three other inconclusive elections in which neither Netanyahu, 71, nor his centre-left opponents won a majority in the 120-seat parliament.

Likud is projected to emerge as the largest party with 30 seats, fewer than its current 36. The opposition centrist party Yesh Atid, headed by Yair Lapid, trailed with 18 seats.

Lapid, 57, had hoped there would be enough parties in the anti-Netanyahu bloc to oust the veteran leader, in power since 2009.

Netanyahu claimed a "huge victory" in the election and said he hoped to form a "stable right-wing government".

Israel's shekel was flat against the US dollar and stocks slipped in Wednesday trade.

It usually falls on the biggest party to try to form a government, and that could take weeks of back-room dealings.

Netanyahu may have to woo Jewish religious allies as well as far-rightists and possibly even the United Arab List (UAL), a conservative Islamist party forecast to win five seats under the partial results.

Should a hard-right government emerge, it would likely be at loggerheads with the Democratic administration of US President Joe Biden over issues such as Palestinian statehood and engagement by the United States with Israel's arch-enemy Iran over its nuclear program.