Retired general Benny Gantz has yet to concede defeat, but with 98 percent of votes counted, Netanyahu's alliance with right-wing and religious parties is on track to secure 65 seats in the 120-seat parliament, or Knesset, giving him a clear path to form the next government. Arab leaders accused Netanyahu of demonizing the country's Arab community, which is about 20% of the population.
"This rotating [premiership] agreement between Gantz and lapid was ruinous and it assured that the ultra-Orthodox will ... recommend Netanyahu".
Austria's right-wing Chancellor Sebastian Kurz tweeted that, "one matter is clear: you (Netanyahu) have - once again - gained the trust of the people of Israel in record numbers".
A couple of small parties were still teetering on the electoral threshold and fighting for survival, so the final makeup of the next parliament could still change slightly.
Israel's president also said Wednesday that his talks with political parties are to begin next week, in the run-up to picking the leader he thinks has the best chance of forming a stable governing coalition. Anti-Semitism has been a highly debated topic in recent months following critical comments from freshman Muslim Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) about an Israeli organization called the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and its influence on American politics. Most of these votes are expected to be counted by Thursday. The trend has accelerated since Donald Trump became US President.
He said he told President Trump "there shouldn't be the removal of even one settlement". If his victory is confirmed, the man widely known as Bibi will surpass in July Israel's founding father David Ben Gurion as the country's longest-serving prime minister.
Blue and White said in a statement: "We won!"
Sudan's overthrown president Omar al-Bashir 'will not be extradited'
The Sudanese military announced Thursday it had removed President Omar al-Bashir from power after months of expanding protests. The protestors say Bashir has simply been replaced by members of his inner circle, which does not reflect the change they want.
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu waves to his supporters after polls for Israel's general elections closed in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Wednesday.
However, Mr Netanyahu was also celebrating from his party's election headquarters in Tel Aviv.
His attacks on the Arab sector fuelled calls for a boycott and appeared to result in relatively low turnout by Arab voters. He faces possible indictment in three graft cases, and has denied wrongdoing in all three.
"The skies may look overcast.but they can not hide the sun of hope that we have brought to the Israeli people and society", Gantz, 59, wrote in an open letter to supporters. As a combat soldiers in the Sayeret Matkal, as a high-tech entrepreneur, as education minister and as a cabinet member during 'Operation Protective Edge.' Now the soldiers will decide where I will continue to fight on their behalf. "Every time we elect Arab representatives to parliament, the minute they are seated in parliament chambers they forget all the campaign promises".
Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said that "Israelis have voted to preserve the status quo". Legal experts expect at least some charges to be filed, which could result in a short term in office for Netanyahu and another round of elections.
"Despite OneVoice's previous political activism in the 2013 Israeli election, the Department failed to take any steps to guard against the risk that OneVoice could engage in political activities using State-funded grassroots campaign infrastructure after the grant period", the report found.
"The digital effort here was in the micro-targeting - getting the "right" people to come out and vote after creating pressure on the Arabs not to", Altshuler said.