Jerusalem CNN  — 

After Israel’s second national election this year, there is no more clarity about the country’s political future.

Perhaps even less.

And for the first time in a decade, there is a very real possibility that Benjamin Netanyahu will not be Israel’s Prime Minister.

Since 2009, Netanyahu has played Israeli politics like a fiddle, tuning it to his advantage. Only now the fiddle is broken.

After he failed to secure a governing coalition in April’s elections, Netanyahu triggered a do-over ballot instead of risking a different Prime Minister.

Following a divisive three-month campaign in which he accused Arab citizens of Israel of stealing the vote, suggested his opponent was a weak leftist who may be mentally unstable, and complained of widespread election fraud, Netanyahu is now even further from forming a government than he was five months ago.

To secure a coalition government, Netanyahu needs to ally his Likud Party with enough smaller parties to reach a total of at least 61 out of the Knesset’s 120 seats. In April, he had 60. Hoping to pick up one more, Netanyahu legislated new elections. But his move has likely backfired – he now has only 55 seats.

“On the face of it, [Netanyahu] has gone from being the factor which has kept the right, and Likud, in power, to the single obstacle to them retaining power,” says Jason Pearlman, former spokesman for Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin. “That said, [Benny] Gantz’s situation is no better.”

Benny Gantz, whose Blue and White Party leads Likud by two seats, may have a slightly larger bloc behind him, but even he has no clear path to a coalition. Combined with the Democratic Union, Labor and the Arab parties, Gantz would have just 57 seats, though it is not clear at the moment whether the Arab parties would definitely agree to join him.

The kingmaker in these elections – former Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and his eight-seat Yisrael Beiteinu Party – refuses to sit with the Arab parties or the ultra-Orthodox religious parties, meaning Gantz and Netanyahu are stuck. And so is Israel.

Unprecedented politics

Ostensibly, both leaders want a unity government between Likud and Blue and White, but Gantz has said he will not sit with Netanyahu while the Prime Minister is facing possible indictment in ongoing corruption probes.

And Netanyahu, who called for negotiations to a unity government with no preconditions, was also quick to declare he had unified the ultra-Orthodox and religious Zionist parties behind him, which inherently imposes preconditions on any potential coalition negotiations.