That explanation appeared to satisfy a majority of Israeli voters, who cast their ballots for parties committed to keeping Mr Netanyahu in power.
“I know some of the things Bibi did are wrong but I’m not looking for a rabbi. I’m looking for a leader,” said Yaakov Lemash, 76, after voting for Likud.
Mr Netanyahu’s Likud and Mr Gantz’s Blue & White each appeared to have won 35 seats in Israel’s 120-member parliament. But while Likud and the Right-wing parties had a clear route to a majority, Mr Gantz did not have enough allies on the Centre-Left.
The former general, who rose from a commando to the head of Israel’s military, conceded the election on Wednesday evening. But his party said it was already gearing up to fight another election next year if the criminal case against Mr Netanyahu drives him from office