The polls on Israel’s three main TV stations showed Prime Minister Mr Netanyahu, his allies and opponents all falling short of a parliamentary majority.
That could set the stage for weeks of paralysis and even an unprecedented fifth consecutive election.
If the final results are in line with the exit polls, both sideswill have to court Naftali Bennett, a former Netanyahu ally withstrained relations with the prime minister, to form a majority in the120-seat Knesset, or parliament.
Mr Bennett shares Mr Netanyahu’s hard-line nationalist ideologybut has signalled he would be open to cooperating with his rivals ifgiven the chance to be prime minister.
Later, Mr Netanyahu claimed a “great victory” for his right-wing bloc, despite the still inconclusive results.
In a statement on Facebook late on Tuesday, Mr Netanyahu saysIsraelis have “given a great victory to the right and to the Likud undermy leadership”.
The Likud emerged as the largest individual party and right-wing parties dominated the results, according to exit polls.
But some of those parties oppose Mr Netanyahu, making it unclear whether he will be able to form a new government.