Israel’s Elections Commission confirmed that former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his allies won a majority in the parliamentary elections that took place on Tuesday.
His right-wing coalition won 64 of the 120 Knesset seats.
As for the Center bloc, led by outgoing Prime Minister Yair Lapid, it won 51 seats.
Lapid admitted defeat, saying he would instruct his office to prepare for the handover of power to the new prime minister.
Netanyahu’s victory is a dramatic political comeback in Israel.
Netanyahu, 73, is one of Israel’s most controversial political figures, hated by many on the center and left, but adored by his grassroots Likud party supporters.
He is a staunch supporter of building Jewish settlements in the West Bank occupied since the 1967 war. These settlements are illegal under international law, although Israel opposes this.
Netanyahu opposes the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a formula supported by most of the international community, including the Joe Biden administration in the United States.
Netanyahu is currently on trial for bribery, fraud and breach of trust – charges he vehemently denies.
His coalition with the far-right Religious Zionism party, known for its anti-Arab policies, has alarmed Israel’s allies.
The United States said it hoped the government would continue to embrace “the values of democracy and openness.”
The party’s leaders, Itamar Ben Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich, had gained popularity for using anti-Arab rhetoric and calling for the deportation of “disloyal” Arab citizens or politicians.
Ben Gvir was a follower of the ultra-nationalist and outrageously racist Rabbi Meir Kahane, whose organization was banned in Israel and designated a terrorist organization by the United States.
Ben Gvir himself was convicted of inciting racism and supporting a terrorist organization.
Ben Gvir made headlines last month, when he was photographed pulling a pistol after he was targeted by a stone thrown at him by Palestinians during his visit to occupied East Jerusalem, which has an Arab majority, and the police called on him to shoot those he described as the perpetrators.