By George Whitten, Jerusalem Bureau Chief
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL (Worthy News) -- Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni urged Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu Wednesday, February 11, to join a national unity government after official results gave her Kadima party a narrow lead.
With nearly all votes counted, the Kadima party led by Tzipi Livni was barely leading Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud's party with 28 against 27 seats. Both parties however claimed victory Wednesday, February 11.
Israeli President Shimon Peres will decide which party would build the next coalition government.
Under Israeli law, he must consult with all parties, but the creation of a coalition government is usually granted to the head of the faction that has the greatest chance of forming a government.
Normally, the party that garners most votes will receive the privilege to build a coalition, however analysts say this is not necessarily the case in this election as a Likud-led government would present a solid block of right-wing mandates and form a more stable government.
Potential kingmaker could become Avigdor Lieberman who kept his options open after his far-right party dominated by fellow Russian-speaking immigrants surged into third on a wave of anti-Arab rhetoric.
While Kadima and Likud won most votes, their parties were closely followed by the party of potential kingmaker Avigdor Lieberman.
He kept his options open after his far-right Yisrael Beiteinu party, dominated by fellow Russian-speaking immigrants surged into third on what critics described as anti-Arab rhetoric.
His party received 15 seats, followed by Labor 13, Shas 11, United Arab List 5, United Torah Judaism 4, National Union 4, Hadash 4, Meretz 3, Bayit Hayedui 3, and Balad with 2 mandates, according to first results.
The final results of the election will not be published until February 18 when the overseas votes are finally tallied.
Despite uncertainty over the final tally,"Netanyahu will be Israel's next prime minister," the Likud said in a statement. "The election proved that the path of the Likud and the national camp won. A clear majority of the nation rejected the path of Kadima and its partners and accepted the path of Likud and the nationalist camp."
The Likud party claimed that even without Yisrael Beiteinu it and rightist allies won Tuesday's election by 6-8 mandates and that therefore Peres would entrust the next coalition to be built by Netanyahu.
They also said that if Livni was unable to form a government in October, then there's no reason she'll be able to form a government now.
However, Kadima party members responded to Likud saying the reason Livni failed to build a coalition was not because she was unable to -- but rather she showed the backbone needed in a prime minister. In October, Livni did not cave into Ultra-Orthodox parties financial demands for joining the Kadima-led coalition. By doing so, Livni saved taxpayers "millions of shekels," Kadima said.