Netanyahu is likely to establish a government with Likud’s natural partners, namely, the nationalist and religious parties.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared victory in the 2015 elections after his Likud party won 30 of the 120 Knesset seats, a large majority over his main rival, Isaac Herzog of The Zionist Union party, which received 24 seats. Herzog has publicly conceded defeat.

The polls leading up to the election showed Likud, which initially had only 20 seats, falling behind The Zionist Union.

Netanyahu engaged in a vigorous campaign during the final days before the vote in an attempt to garner as much support as possible, and he was successful. As he warned that a left-wing government could be formed after the elections, many rallied around the Likud banner,  even at the expense of other right-wing parties, and Netanyahu emerged victorious.

Yisrael Beitenu lost 5 seats, Shas lost 4, Bayit Yehudi lost 4 and Yesh Atid lost 8 – some of them to Likud.

Moshe Kahlon

Rising political star Moshe Kahlon, leader of the Kulanu party. (Flash90)

Netanyahu has two options. He can establish a broad unity government with the left-wing The Zionist Union party, or he can establish a coalition with parties which have historically been the natural Likud partners, namely, the right-wing and religious parties.

The first option seems unlikely, pundits say. The differences between Likud and The Zionist Union are far too great, and Netanyahu does not need them politically. Furthermore, neither party appears to be seeking such an option.

Netanyahu is more likely to establish a 67-member coalition with Shas, Yisrael Beitenu, Bayit Yehudi, United Torah Judaism and the centrist Kulanu party led by emerging political star Moshe Kahlon.

Netanyahu, faced with the difficult task of negotiating a coalition, said that he hopes to establish a government as soon as possible in order to continue with his work as leader of Israel.