Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid has congratulated Benjamin Netanyahu on his victory in Tuesday’s general election.

Mr Lapid said he had called his rival to wish him luck and tell him he would ensure an orderly transition of power.

Mr Netanyahu’s Likud party and its far-right and religious allies won 64 of the 120 seats in parliament, according to final results released on Thursday.

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It marks a dramatic comeback for the former prime minister, who was ousted by his opponents 14 months ago.

The result also ends an unprecedented period of political deadlock that began in 2019, when Mr Netanyahu was charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust, which he denies. He remains on trial, with the next hearing on Monday.

After exit polls projected that he would secure a majority, Mr Netanyahu told Likud supporters that he would set up a government that would “look after all the citizens of Israel, without exception, because the state is all of ours”.

“We’ll restore security, we’ll cut the cost of living, we’ll widen the circle of peace even further, we’ll restore Israel as a rising power among the nations.”

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Israeli media said the final results gave Likud 32 seats; Mr Lapid’s centrist Yesh Atid party 24; the far-right ultra-nationalist Religious Zionism alliance 14; and the centre-right National Unity party of Defence Minister Benny Gantz 12.

The ultra-Orthodox parties Shas and United Torah Judaism got 11 and seven seats respectively; the secular nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party six; the Arab Raam and Hadash-Taal parties five each; and Labour four.

Mr Netanyahu did not mention potential coalition partners in his speech, but they are expected to include Religious Zionism.

Its leaders, Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich, are known for their anti-Arab rhetoric. The former has called for the deportation of citizens deemed “disloyal”, while the latter has called for Arab political parties to be outlawed.

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Mr Ben-Gvir was a follower of the late, explicitly racist, ultra-nationalist Meir Kahane, whose organisation was banned in Israel and designated as a terrorist group by the United States. He has been convicted of incitement to racism and supporting a terrorist organisation.

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The inclusion of Religious Zionism in the new government would alarm many left-wing and centrist Israelis, as well as Israeli Arabs, who make up a fifth of the population. It could also strain ties with the Palestinians and Israel’s Western and Arab allies.

The US said on Wednesday it hoped “all Israeli government officials will continue to share the values of an open, democratic society, including tolerance and respect for all in civil society, particularly for minority groups”.

Mr Smotrich has said he wants to be defence minister, while Mr Ben-Gvir has demanded to be public security minister.

“The time has come to impose order here. The time has come for there to be a landlord,” Mr Ben-Gvir tweeted on Thursday, after the Israeli police said an officer was stabbed and wounded by a Palestinian man in occupied East Jerusalem. The Palestinian was shot dead by officers at the scene.

Three other Palestinians, including an Islamic Jihad militant, were also killed during raids by Israeli security forces in the occupied West Bank on Thursday, Palestinian health officials said.

In a separate incident in the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba, a 13-year-old Israeli girl was seriously injured after being shot in the head, Israeli medics said. Israeli media reported that it was not clear whether she had been targeted deliberately or hit by a stray bullet.

Later, air raid sirens sounded in southern Israel after Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip fired three rockets towards Israel, the Israeli military said. The launches failed and the rockets exploded inside Gaza, it added.

BBC