Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Benjamin Netanyahu casts his ballot in Israeli general elections, January 22, 2013.
Israelis went to polling stations on Tuesday to choose new parliament (Knesset) members and head of cabinet.
Opinion polls estimated that Netanyahu’s rightwing Likud party, which is running on a joint list with hardline Yisrael Beitenu group, would win most of the seats.
Netanyahu has promised to pursue his plans to construct illegal settlements on the occupied Palestinian lands if he stays in office, a policy that has so far sparked international criticism even from its number one ally, the United States.
However, as no Israeli party could ever win an absolute majority, Netanyahu will have to form a coalition to control the Knesset's 120 seats.
The centre-left Labor party is anticipated to come in second. The party leader Shelly Yachimovich is also predicted to become an opposition leader as she earlier vowed she would not join a coalition with Netanyahu.
The Jewish Home Party is predicted to trail Labor and become a likely partner for the future coalition. Naftali Bennett was appointed the party’s leader in November, but quickly became a popular figure among Israelis.
According to the polls, the rightwing bloc would win 61 to 67 seats, while the center-left and Arab parties will secure 53 to 57 seats.
The future coalition will face a wide range of challenges, such as a budget crisis, austerity cuts, and public dissatisfaction over rising prices.