Former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has won the country’s latest election, according to final results, clearing the way for him to return to power leading a right-wing alliance.
Prime Minister Yair Lapid congratulated Netanyahu and instructed his staff to prepare an organised transition of power, his office said.
“The state of Israel comes before any political consideration,” Lapid said.
“I wish Netanyahu success, for the sake of the people of Israel and the state of Israel.”
Lapid, who has served as interim prime minister for the past four months, made the announcement just before the final results were released showing Netanyahu securing a parliamentary majority with his religious and ultranationalist allies.
Netanyahu expected to form the country’s most right-wing government in history when he takes power, likely in the coming weeks.
Israel held its fifth election in four years on Tuesday, a protracted political crisis that saw voters divided over Netanyahu’s fitness to serve while on trial for corruption.
US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin says Ukrainian forces can retake the strategic southern city of Kherson from Russian troops, in what would be a major defeat for Russia in its invasion of its neighbour.
Austin’s remarks coincided with a Russian-installed official in Kherson region saying Moscow was likely to pull its troops from the west bank of the Dnipro River, signalling a significant retreat, if confirmed.
Ukraine said it was still fighting in the area and was wary of the occupying Russian forces setting a trap.
“On the issue of whether the Ukrainians can take the remaining territory on the west side of the Dnipro river and in Kherson, I certainly believe that they have the capability to do that,” Austin told a news conference at the Pentagon.
“Most importantly, the Ukrainians believe they have the capability to do that. We have seen them engage in a very methodical but effective effort to take back their sovereign territory.”
The region’s capital and river port Kherson is the only big city Russia has captured intact since its invasion began on February 24.