With final results still hours away, both men declared victory, though Netanyahu appeared to have better prospects of forming a coalition with smaller ideological allies. The US president moved his country's embassy to the "undivided capital" Jerusalem and recognized the Golan Heights - annexed in 1981 - as Israeli territory, even though it clearly belongs to Syria under global law. General Benny Gantz has stepped into the running with his Blue and White alliance, hoping to snatch power from under the current Prime Minister's feet.
Earlier Tuesday before there was a clear victor, Gantz and his No. 2, Yair Lapid, had proclaimed victory, urging Netanyahu to admit defeat.
For his part, the Prime Minister announced he meant to sue Gantz and his key ally, Moshe Ya'alon, after the latter suggested Netanyahu could be guilty of treason in connection with an investigation into military procurement.
He thanked the US President for his "tremendous support for Israel".
In a speech before supporters on Tuesday night, Netanyahu vowed that Israeli's new government "will be a right-wing government, but I will be prime minister for all".
Netanyahu has already phoned many probable partners in his latest coalition, nearly certainly a government of the right.
17 foot long, 140 pound giant python captured!
Pet owners either release them on goal when they get too big, or by accident when hurricanes sweep through the state. Using male pythons with transmitters, it allows the hunters to track the male to find the breeding females.
Barcelona Will Have Many Chances To Beat Man Utd - Andres Iniesta
Manchester United players cheered when the draw for the Champions League quarter-finals pitted them against Barcelona , according to defender Chris Smalling .
US to designate Iran Revolutionary Guard a terrorist group
Jason Blazakis, the former director of the State Department's Counterterrorism Finance and Designation Office, told the WSJ that the move would have profound ramifications.
Israel's attorney general has recommended charging Netanyahu with bribery, breach of trust and fraud. "We all need to think about how we can work together, how we can bring everyone into the discussion", he said.
Israeli exit polls are often imprecise and final results are expected early Wednesday. Speaking to his Likud lawmakers on the day the election was called he said the outgoing government had "outstanding achievements" on which to campaign. He will be Israel's longest-serving prime minister. He can partner with the parties from the right-wing bloc or choose to have a national unity government with the Blue and White party.
Some have speculated that a unity government between Netanyahu and Gantz would help the country heal from a bitter election, and respond to threats from Iran and Hamas.
In a rare turn during the campaign toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Netanyahu alarmed Palestinians by pledging to annex Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank if re-elected.
Though both parties were well short of a majority in the 120-seat parliament, the polls showed Likud and its religious and nationalist allies controlling a solid majority. Wrong in and of itself, it would also provide a purchase for the right to ratchet him further on the issue. He allied with two other former military chiefs, Moshe Yaalon and Gabi Ashkenazi, as well as Yair Lapid, a former finance minister whose centrist Yesh Atid had 11 seats in the previous parliament.
How do Israeli elections work?
But Gantz and Netanyahu may not be as different as they wanted voters to think.
As CNN discovered when it visited a stronghold of his party Likud, in the desert town of Beersheva several weeks ago, that message resonates strongly with many blue-collar Israelis.