Both sides claim Israeli election win
Israeli election results have thrown a piquant political situation and this is likely to lead to weeks of political uncertainty after an election that ended with clashing claims of victory by centrist foreign minister Tzipi Livni and hawkish rival Benjamin Netanyahu.
Nearly final results gave Ms Livni’s Kadima party 28 seats to 27 for Mr Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud in the 120-member parliament. She said she would become prime minister and invited him to join a “unity government”.
Both Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni's Kadima party and Binyamin Netanyahu's opposition Likud styled themselves the winners of Tuesday's elections, after it became apparent that Kadima had won the most seats in the new Knesset, but the Likud-led right-wing would constitute the larger bloc.
With 99.7 percent of the votes counted by 7:00 a.m., Kadima was narrowly leading Likud with a predicted 28 mandates, while the latter had garnered a predicted 27 seats. Israel Beiteinu was expected to earn 15 mandates, Labor
13, Shas 11, United Arab List five, United Torah Judaism four, National Union four, Hadash four, Meretz three, Bayit Hayehudi three, and Balad two.
The final results, including votes from soldiers and emissaries abroad, will only be published on February 18.
Overall voter turnout, which observers had feared would be low, was 65.2%, over two percentage points higher than in the 2006 national elections.