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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has won the Israeli national election, based on unofficial results, securing a record fifth term in office despite running neck in neck with his challenger Benny Gantz. But Mr Netanyahu will no longer be able to fend off pressure by citing U.S. opposition.

- The attorney general however has announced his intention to charge Netanyahu with bribery, fraud and breach of trust pending a hearing, with proceedings set to begin in the coming months. Former IDF Brigadier General Gal Hirsch's Magen party received just over 3,000 votes, Oren Hazan's Tzomet party got at least 2,300 votes, while the party of Israeli pensioners received between 1,000 and 1,500 of votes.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that Israel "must put aside the populism and the rhetoric, it must abandon its aggressive stance", now that the elections are over.

The 69-year-old is Israel's greatest political survivor.

Democratic Senator Tim Kaine asked Pompeo, a former Republican member of the House of Representatives, if he thought a peace agreement including one state for Israel and one state for the Palestinians was an outdated idea.

In the final days of the campaign, Netanyahu has vowed to annex Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank - a move that would quash any remaining hopes of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"It's a night of tremendous victory", Netanyahu told supporters early Wednesday.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking during a joint press conference with US Secretary of State at his residence in Jerusalem.

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The ultra-Orthodox parties Shas and United Torah Judaism each won eight seats.

As of Wednesday morning, the Zehut Party under far-right leader Moshe Feiglin, which made headlines in the campaign due in part to his espousal of cannabis legalization, failed to make it into the Knesset at all. Netanyahu has reneged on election eve promises before, but should he follow through on this one, it would mark a dramatic development and potentially wipe out the already diminishing hope for Palestinian statehood. If it includes Israeli concessions to the Palestinians, Netanyahu's probable far-right coalition allies will likely object. Turnout was reportedly lower than usual in the neighborhoods. The Labor party, which ruled the country for its first 30 years, tumbled to single digits in the parliament.

If Netanyahu is re-elected, attention will quickly focus on his legal woes. That could be scuppered if criminal charges are filed and force his removal. He served as defense minister during the term of the outgoing government but resigned in November saying that he wanted a stronger response to a barrage of air attacks from the Gaza Strip.

Netanyahu will likely focus his efforts on getting guarantees from his coalition partners to continue to back him if he is indicted, and perhaps find a way to grant him immunity from prosecution.

Netanyahu has consistently rejected the allegations, labelling them a left-wing witch hunt.

So Mr Netanyahu, in trying to save his political life, has grown increasingly desperate.

Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said that "Israelis have voted to preserve the status quo". They wanted a different path, and we laid it out.

- Headed by Netanyahu, the Likud holds liberal economic positions alongside support for Israeli settlement building in the occupied West Bank.


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