Hard-line Likud Party leader Benjamin Netanyahu and ruling Kadima Party Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni have both claimed victory in Israel’s parliamentary election Tuesday, which early returns suggested is still too close to call.
Likud Party leader Benjamin Netanyahu
greets supporters at the Likud election
headquarters at the convention center
in Tel Aviv, Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2009.
(AP Photo/Odd Andersen)
With 67 percent of the votes counted at about 7 PM (EST), according to an Associated Press report citing Israel’s Channel 1 television, Livni’s centrists Kadima Party had won 29 seats in the 120-seat Knesset parliament while Netanyahu’s hawkish Likud Party was right behind with 28 seats.
A final vote count will not be known until Thursday evening, when the votes are counted for soldiers at military bases across Israel. Those results could change the tally in the Knesset by a seat or two.
Under Israel’s parliamentary system, when there is no clear majority winner, the leader of the party winning the most seats automatically becomes the Prime Minister who forms the ruling government.