Ofer Zalzberg, director of the Middle East program at the at the Herbert C. Kelman Institute, a Jerusalem-based research group.

“He has reconciled better than his adversaries the liberal idea of personal and individual autonomy with conservative values like preserving Jewish identity, as defined by Orthodox interpretations of Jewish law,” Dr. Zalzberg said.

While other politicians historically tried to solve this tension by “turning all Israelis into secular Zionists,” he added, “Mr. Netanyahu advanced the idea of Israel as a mosaic of different tribes.”

Mr. Netanyahu has failed to win over the more liberal of those tribes — and that failure is at the heart of the current stalemate. But he and his party have been more successful than the secular left at winning over key groups like Mizrahi Jews, who were historically marginalized by the Ashkenazi elite, Ms. Azaria said.

“That’s the blind spot of the of the left wing in Israel — they’re not really talking to Mizrahim,” she said. “This could be the game changer of Israeli politics. If the left could open the gates and say, ‘You’re welcome. We want you here.’”

The political stalemate has also been exacerbated by a reluctance by Jewish-led parties to include Arab parties within their governments, ruling the latter out of coalition negotiations and making it even harder to form a majority.

Arab parties have also been traditionally opposed to joining Israeli governments that are in conflict with Arab neighbors and occupy territories claimed by the Palestinians.

But for Dr. Efron, the Tel Aviv-based analyst, there were hopeful signs of a paradigm shift on Wednesday morning. With the election results on a knife edge, some politicians were forced to at least consider the possibility of a pivotal political role for an Arab party such as Raam.

And such a discussion might accelerate the acceptance of Arabs within the Israeli political sphere, she said.

“It brings more integration,” Dr. Efron added. “In the long run, that could be a silver lining.”

Adam Rasgon and Gabby Sobelman contributed reporting.

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