Netanyahu leads Israel vote
ISRAEL: Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu Wednesday emerged from
hard-fought elections weakened but still best placed to form a new
government and likely to reach out to centrist parties strengthened by
In results that defied expectations, the centrist Yesh Atid became
Israel's second strongest party, just a year after it was created by
former journalist Yair Lapid, who has overnight become the country's
newest political star.
And the strong results for centrist parties left the Knesset's 120
seats equally divided by the country's rightwing and centre-left blocs.
By 0600 GMT, with 99.5 percent of the votes counted, Israel's
electoral committee said the list grouping Netanyahu's rightwing Likud
and the secular nationalist Yisrael Beitenu faction had won 31 seats.
The national religious Jewish Home won 11 seats, as did the Sephardic
ultra-Orthodox Shas. The Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism
faction won seven seats, bringing the bloc's total to 60.
On the centre-left side, Yesh Atid came away with 19 seats, slightly
ahead of the centre-left Labour party, which won 15.
The HaTnuah faction of former foreign minister Tzipi Livni carried
six seats, as did the leftwing Meretz, while Livni's onetime party
Kadima won just two.