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Final tally confirms Netanyahu victory in Israel election

STORY: An official tally of votes in Israel's parliamentary elections confirmed on Thursday former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu's triumphant return to power at the head of a right-wing nationalist and religious alliance.

The current Israeli prime minister, Yair Lapid, congratulated Netanyahu on his election win after a final count showed the bloc lead by Netanyahu's Likud Party controlled 64 seats in the country's 120-member Knesset.

Netanyahu's clear parliamentary majority may end a period of stalemate that saw five elections in less than four years.

And it spells the end of short-lived coalition of centrist, conservative, leftist and Arab parties that, over the course of just 18 months in power, made diplomatic inroads with Turkey and Lebanon and kept the country's economy humming.

Netanyahu has yet to be tasked by the country's president with forming a government, which could take weeks.

And in doing so he will have to satisfy the demands of those whose support he needs. First among them, the far-right ultra-nationalist Itamar Ben-Gvir.

Ben-Gvir and his Religious Zionism list won 14 parliamentary seats, making it the third-largest faction in the Knesset.

A West Bank settler and former member of the outlawed Kach group, which is on both the U.S. and Israeli terror watchlists, Ben-Gvir wants to become police minister.

But Ben-Gvir's ascendancy has stirred alarm among the 21% Arab minority and center-left Jews - and especially among Palestinians whose U.S.-sponsored statehood talks with Israel broke down in 2014.

With coalition building talks yet to officially begin, it was still unclear what position Ben-Gvir might hold in a future government. Since the election, both he and Netanyahu have pledged to serve all citizens.

Israeli media, citing political sources, said the new government may be clinched by mid-month.