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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declares election victory

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Likud party supporters react to exit poll results at the party's election headquarters In Tel Aviv.Tuesday, March 17, 2015.  (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Likud party supporters react to exit poll results at the party's election headquarters In Tel Aviv.Tuesday, March 17, 2015. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

AP

A Jewish settler votes in Hebron, West Bank, Tuesday, March 17, 2015. Israelis are voting in early parliament elections following a campaign focused on economic issues such as the high cost of living, rather than fears of a nuclear Iran or the Israeli-Arab conflict. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

A Jewish settler votes in Hebron, West Bank, Tuesday, March 17, 2015. Israelis are voting in early parliament elections following a campaign focused on economic issues such as the high cost of living, rather than fears of a nuclear Iran or the Israeli-Arab conflict. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

AP

Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog prepares to cast his vote in Tel Aviv, Israel, Tuesday, March 17, 2015. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog prepares to cast his vote in Tel Aviv, Israel, Tuesday, March 17, 2015. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

AP

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Likud party supporters react to exit poll results at the party's election headquarters In Tel Aviv.Tuesday, March 17, 2015. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has declared victory after a tight national election appeared to give him the upper hand in forming the country's next coalition government.

In a statement released on Twitter, Mr Netanyahu says that "against all odds" his Likud Party and the nationalist camp secured a "great victory".

Initial exit polls showed Likud deadlocked with the centre-left Zionist Union led by Isaac Herzog.

But the results indicated that Mr Netanyahu will have an easier time cobbling together a majority coalition with hard-line and religious allies.

Mr Netanyahu said he had already begun to call potential partners.

Exit polls conducted by the country's three major TV stations gave mixed results.

Two polls showed the parties deadlocked with 27 seats each, and a third gave Likud a slight lead of 28-27.

All showed the centrist newcomer Moshe Kahlon with enough seats to determine who will be the next prime minister.

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