JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s party held a lead in Israel’s fourth election in two years, exit polls projected Wednesday morning, but neither his right-wing alliance nor a diverse bloc of opposition parties had a clear path to a majority coalition, creating a stalemate that could extend Israel’s political deadlock for weeks if not months.
Three broadcasters’ exit polls had projected on Tuesday that Mr. Netanyahu’s coalition could win a majority with the help of an independent, Naftali Bennett.
But early Wednesday, when the polls were adjusted to reflect early results, the outlook changed.
Two of the three television polls gave Mr. Netanyahu’s conservative Likud party and his wider right-wing and religious bloc 53 seats, and only 60 when adding in Mr. Bennett’s projected seven seats, just short of the 61 needed to form a majority in the 120-seat Parliament.
The third poll gave the anti-Netanyahu bloc of parties an edge of 61 seats, potentially blocking Mr. Netanyahu’s path to victory and making the election too close to call.
The uncertainty is likely to lead to weeks if not months of negotiations, and possibly yet another election.