The result meant that Netanyahu, whose faction remained the largest in parliament, would almost certainly have to join forces with Yesh Atid, now second in size. The centrist party’s demands include resuming negotiations with the Palestinians, and an alliance could result in a government less tilted to the right than Netanyahu’s outgoing administration.

An Israeli government with a large centrist component could improve Netanyahu’s tense ties with the Obama administration and ease Israel’s international isolation, which has been deepened by the impasse in peace talks and by Netanyahu’s recent announcements of stepped-up settlement building in the West Bank…

Lapid’s campaign for equal service and easing the burden on a struggling middle class resonated with many secular Israelis, who pay high taxes and serve in the military. He says that the ultra-Orthodox should join the workforce and do a stint of national service, either in the military or in a civilian capacity, such as working in hospitals or helping the elderly…

Netanyahu, who pledged in his speech to address the issue of “sharing the burden,” will be hard-pressed to square Lapid’s demands with those of the ultra-Orthodox parties that have been his traditional coalition partners. Shas, a longtime ally of Netanayahu, won 11 seats.