It may have taken him a year and three elections to achieve it, but on Tuesday, Benjamin Netanyahu started to look like the Great Houdini of Israeli politics – escape artist extraordinaire.
With almost all of the ballots counted, Netanyahu's bloc of settler and extreme religious parties was set to win 58 seats in the 120-member parliament – three shy of an absolute majority.
But more importantly, his Likud party is expected to secure three more seats than his chief rival, Benny Gantz, a former army general who leads the secular right-wing Blue and White party.
Netanyahu managed his win even though the attorney general recently indicted him on a raft of corruption charges. His trial is due to start in two weeks.