After all the dust has settled, Israeli's hard-fought parlimentary election yesterday appears to have an ended in a virtual tie. So how is that going to work, exactly?
Benjamin Netanyau's Likud party lost more seats than was previously expected, and combined with the gains of the centrist and left-leaning parties, the two blocs have essentially split with 60 seats each in the 120-seat Knesset. (That's if you count the Arab parties on the left-hand side, but they won't actually be joining any coalitions.) The new reality leaves Netanyahu with the difficult task of trying to craft a working government out of electorate that's much more evenly divided than previously thought.
The most important thing is that Netanyahu will remain the prime minister. Unfortunately, for Netanyahu ... he's still the prime minister. His ruling coalition has been robbed of almost all its leverage, and there's a chance it may not even have an actual working majority when all is said done. His coalition will be smaller and his home party will be more conservative, pushing Netanyahu further to the right on key issues like settlements and Iran, at the same time that his stronger left-center opponents will be forcing him to limit his options. Netanyahu's best alternative appears to be abandoning the hard-right and Orthodox religious parties to form a more centrist coalition, but that might have even less chance of survival once hard-right parties take up the fight.