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Israel's far right rejoices as Netanyahu nears victory

STORY: Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to return to power in one of the most right-wing coalitions in Israel's history.

A smiling Netanyahu, who is on trial over corruption charges he denies, spoke to cheering supporters on Wednesday (November 2).

"Our way, the way of Likud, proved itself. I remind you that after getting 52 seats last election, we are on the brink of a very big win."

Current Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid stopped short of conceding victory, pending the final tally.

"We have no intention to stop. We have no intention to cease. Every Israeli citizen - religious or secular, leftist or rightist, Jewish or Arab, straight or LGBT - should know tonight that we will continue to fight for Israel to be a Jewish and democratic, liberal and progressive state."

A possible Netanyahu win has caused jitters among Palestinians and Arab neighbors who fear it could ratchet up tensions across the Middle East.

With roughly 85% of votes counted, Netanyahu's conservative Likud and its likely religious and far-right allies were on pace to control a majority in parliament after Israel's fifth election in less than four years.

Reactions on the streets of Jerusalem were mixed in light of the news.

This man says he's very happy, and that he believes a Netanyahu win would be good for Israelis.

However, retiree Mina Rabi disagrees.

"I feel very disappointed, I expected a changed, I expected this government to remain in power and get stronger, that we will have a much better future and not a radical right wing government. It's a pity."

Netanyahu's prospective alliance with ultranationalist firebrand Itamar Ben-Gvir has alarmed Palestinians and members of Israel's minority Arabs.

As prime minister, Netanyahu government will likely press forward with settlement activity on occupied land where Palestinians, with international support, seek statehood.

But his hard line on Iran means Israel's recently struck Gulf Arab alliances should hold firm.

Though the landscape could shift as ballot counts trickle in, Israeli media predicted Netanyahu would lead a bloc of four parties taking 65 of the Knesset's 120 seats.