With the exit polls closing, the early headline is that the exit polls give the Kadima party of Tzipi Livni a slight edge of a couple of seats over Netanyahu's Likud party. The loss of Likud's opinion poll lead at the ballot box is a small pinch of good news, but the shape of the exit polls (if they are accurate) this still looks probably more likely to end with a right-wing coalition with Netanyahu as prime minister than a Livni-led coalition. (Though I just flicked to CNN - which had a 'Kadima Wins' flash).
Labour under Defence Minister Ehud Barak seems to have done terribly, and is projected to come in fourth behind the far right party Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel Our Home) led by Avigdor Lieberman, whose polarising campaign proposing that Israeli Arabs must take a loyalty oath or be stripped of citizenship looks to be the story of the election. (The small left wing party Meretz is also projected to be slightly down). Shas and the other smaller religious parties may well have a decisive influence in the Knesset.
For all of the complexity, there is a great deal of difference between a Livni and Netanyahu led government, as today's sensible Guardian leader argued, though the former could easily also become a prisoner of the small religious parties. It was widely, and somewhat cynically, suggested that Operation Cast Lead in Gaza was the price the Israeli centre and centre-left had to pay to stay in power. If that was indeed the gambit, it may well have failed as Israel moves right.
Folllowing the elections online
Haaretz, the Israeli liberal newspaper has the exit polls and live result updates.
The Guardian election pages contain good background resources. (Jonathan Freedland's column on the dilemmas of the doveish voter is also a useful guide to who's who).
PoliticalBetting's live thread will be a good place to debate hypothetical coalition scenarios and, above all, bemoan the iniquities of the Israeli electoral system.