Israel's two main political parties were deadlocked Wednesday after an unprecedented repeat election, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu facing an uphill battle to hold on to his job. The election's seeming political kingmaker, Avigdor Lieberman, said he'll insist upon a secular unity government between Netanyahu's Likud and Benny Gantz's Blue and White parties, who based on partial results are currently tied at 32 seats each out of the 120 in parliament. Without Lieberman's endorsement, both parties appear to have fallen well short of securing a parliamentary majority with their prospective ideological allies, the AP reports. "There is one and only option: a national unity government that is broad and liberal and we will not join any other option," Lieberman said.
That could spell serious trouble for the continuation of Netanyahu's rule. Gantz, a former military chief, has ruled out sitting with a Netanyahu-led Likud at a time when the prime minister is expected to be indicted on corruption charges in the coming weeks. Netanyahu, the longest-serving leader in Israeli history, had desperately sought an outright majority with his hard-line and ultra-Orthodox allies in hopes of passing legislation to give him immunity from his expected indictment. According to partial results released Wednesday, Likud with its natural allies of religious and ultra-nationalist parties mustered just 56 seats—or five short of the needed majority. Gantz's Blue and White and its center-left allies garnered 55 seats, placing Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu and its nine seats in the middle as the deciding factor.
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