LEFT: Retired Israeli General Benny Gantz, one of the leaders of the Blue and White (Kahol Lavan) political alliance, speaks during a campaign event in the northern Israeli coastal city of Haifa on September 8, 2019, ahead of the parliamentary polls scheduled for September 17. (Photo by JACK GUEZ / AFP)        (Photo credit should read JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

RIGHT: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gives a statement in Ramat Gan, near the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv, on September 10, 2019. - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a deeply controversial pledge on September 10 to annex the Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank if re-elected in September 17 polls. He also reiterated his intention to annex Israeli settlements throughout the West Bank if re-elected, though in coordination with US President Donald Trump, whose long-awaited peace plan is expected to be unveiled sometime after the vote. (Photo by Menahem KAHANA / AFP)        (Photo credit should read MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images)
PHOTO: AFP/Getty Images
LEFT: Retired Israeli General Benny Gantz, one of the leaders of the Blue and White (Kahol Lavan) political alliance, speaks during a campaign event in the northern Israeli coastal city of Haifa on September 8, 2019, ahead of the parliamentary polls scheduled for September 17. (Photo by JACK GUEZ / AFP) (Photo credit should read JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images) RIGHT: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gives a statement in Ramat Gan, near the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv, on September 10, 2019. - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a deeply controversial pledge on September 10 to annex the Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank if re-elected in September 17 polls. He also reiterated his intention to annex Israeli settlements throughout the West Bank if re-elected, though in coordination with US President Donald Trump, whose long-awaited peace plan is expected to be unveiled sometime after the vote. (Photo by Menahem KAHANA / AFP) (Photo credit should read MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images)
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(CNN) —  

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s grip on power was hanging in the balance Wednesday after local TV channels projected him trailing his centrist rival Benny Gantz by just one seat, following a re-run general election.

Both Netanyahu and Gantz have vowed they can form a government, even though projected results give neither man a majority in the new Parliament.

Benny Gantz addresses supporters in Tel Aviv early on Wednesday.
PHOTO: Gali Tibbon/AFP/Getty Images
Benny Gantz addresses supporters in Tel Aviv early on Wednesday.

Israeli politics now appears all-but-deadlocked and destined for complex negotiations between the two main parties and the smaller parties over possible coalition arrangements.

Addressing his Blue and White party supporters in Tel Aviv a few hours after the polls closed, Gantz struck a tone of measured optimism, saying that an era of “polarization and antagonism” now lay in the past with “unity and reconciliation” being the way forward.

Gantz said contacts with other parties to build what he described as a “broad unity government” had already started.

“I intend to talk to everybody, starting tonight,” he said.

Netanyahu meanwhile, was hoarse as he addressed his Likud Party supporters, neither claiming victory nor conceding defeat.

“Israel needs a strong, stable, Zionist government committed to Israel as a national state for the Jewish people,” he said.

By Wednesday, all three of Israel’s three main TV news channels were projecting Gantz’s Blue and White winning 32 seats, to 31 seats for Netanyahu’s Likud, in the 120-seat Parliament.

By midday Wednesday well over half the votes had been counted, though official, certified, results are not expected for a few days.

What happens next?

All the leaders of parties which have secured representation in the Parliament are expected to begin consultations with Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin beginning Sunday. When that process is complete, usually after a few days, the President appoints the leader he believes has the best chance of success, to begin talks to form a coalition government.

If that turned out to be Netanyahu, then negotiations would likely need to take account of the corruption allegations swirling around him. A final pre-indictment hearing is scheduled for the first week of October. Netanyahu has denied all of the accusations.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanks supporters at party headquarters in Tel Aviv on Wednesday.
PHOTO: Ariel Schalit/AP
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanks supporters at party headquarters in Tel Aviv on Wednesday.

But if the projected deadlock is borne out in the final results then neither Netanyahu nor Gantz will have a clear path to a coalition. This means the next few weeks, or even months, look set to be marked by intense, behind-the-scenes, political wrangling.

The former Defense Minister, Avigdor Liberman, leader of the Yisrael Beiteinu party – which TV channels projected Wednesday to come fourth with nine seats – could play a key role in coalition negotiations.

Ever since he dashed Netanyahu’s hopes of forming a right-wing and religious coalition after April’s election, Liberman has said he wants to see a national unity government made up of his own party, sitting alongside Likud and Blue and White.

Such a government would easily have a working majority in Parliament. But for it to happen, it would also need a change of position from Blue and White, which has said it will not sit in a government led by Netanyahu.