After an election campaign in which the Palestinian issue rarely featured, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu upped the stakes by unequivocally ruling out a Palestinian state in the near future.
But it is an issue no Israeli government can afford to ignore as the humanitarian crisis in Gaza worsens and the Palestinian leadership advances international legal and diplomatic action against Israel.
Here is an outline of the main parties’ positions on the issue:
On the eve of polling, Netanyahu confirmed there would be no Palestinian state if he was returned to office, effectively reneging on his endorsement of a two-state solution in a key speech in 2009.
Asked by rightwing NRG website if it was true that there would be no Palestinian state established if he was reelected, he replied: “Indeed.”
He later told public radio the two-state solution was now irrelevant, saying the “reality has changed” and “any territory which would be handed over would be taken over by radical Islamists”.
Netanyahu’s government had held nine months of indirect talks with the Palestinians until the negotiations collapsed in April 2014.
In his 2009 speech, Netanyahu became the first Likud leader to agree to the establishment of a Palestinian state — albeit demilitarised.
He has repeatedly ruled out a Palestinian demand for a state within the lines that existed before the 1967 Six-Day War, when Israel seized the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem.
He has also rejected any notion of a Palestinian capital in annexed east Jerusalem, vowing that the city will never be divided and that Israel will hold onto the major settlement blocs in any peace deal.
Likud’s main challenger, the centre-left Zionist Union has pledged to pursue a political agreement outlining Israel’s permanent borders with the support of moderate Arab states and the international community.
It would feature a demilitarised Palestinian state while Israel would retain sovereignty over the major Jewish settlement blocs as well as Jerusalem, with freedom of religion and access to all faiths guaranteed.
Palestinian refugees who fled or were forced out of their homes when the Jewish state was created in 1948 would not be allowed to return to Israel.
The Union says it will prevent any action that “harms the possibility of reaching a political agreement”, pledging to stop settlement construction outside major blocs.
Yesh Atid supports the creation of a Palestinian state, championing a “regional accord” with Arab states, but would make major West Bank settlements part of Israel.
It is willing to discuss “land swaps” to reach an accord, and would freeze settlement building during negotiations but would not relinquish control of Jerusalem.
It would also not grant the right of return to Palestinian refugees — a key Palestinian and Arab demand.
The far-right Jewish Home is completely opposed to “any kind of Palestinian state,” its manifesto says.
Nor does it support a de facto one-state solution whereby Israel would incorporate the West Bank and its Palestinian population.
Party leader Naftali Bennett advocates a plan which would see Israel unilaterally annex Area C, which comprises 63 percent of the occupied West Bank, and offer full citizenship to the 150,000 Palestinians living there, who would be given full self-governance.
He opposed the most recent round of peace talks, and has described the Palestinian issue as “shrapnel in the buttocks”.
Joint (Arab) List
The Joint List, which unites the main Arab parties along with a Jewish-Arab faction, places more importance on the Palestinian question than any other party.
“For us it’s a major issue,” spokeswoman Reut Mor told AFP.
Its platform calls for an end to Israel’s decades-long occupation and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state living beside Israel, with borders along the 1967 lines.
It also demands the right of return for Palestinian refugees, consistent with the position of the Palestinian leadership.
Yisrael Beitenu, a hardline nationalist faction, does not oppose the creation of a Palestinian state but has ruled out a bilateral peace deal in favour of a regional agreement with other Arab countries.
“Any agreement with the Palestinians must be part of an overall agreement that would include peace agreements with Arab states,” the party’s website says.
The party also backs the controversial idea of “transfer” which would see members of Israel’s Arab minority, “who identify with the Palestinians,” become part of the future state of Palestine.