Final Election Results: Kadima 28 Seats, Likud 27, Yisrael Beiteinu 15

Haaretz Service
Shahar Ilan
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Haaretz Service
Shahar Ilan

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Members of Israel's central elections committee said on Thursday the apportionment of Knesset seats would remain as is following the final tally of Israel Defense Forces soldiers' ballots.

Kadima led by Tzipi Livni captured the largest number of Knesset seats - 28 - edging the Likud's 27 seats. Yisrael Beiteinu made history on Tuesday, becoming the third-largest party in the Knesset with 15 seats. The Labor Party finished with a disappointing 13 seats; Shas with 11; United Torah Judaism won five seats; the National Union captured four; United Arab List - Ta'al - four; Hadash - three; Meretz - three; Balad - three; and Bayit Hayehudi ("The Jewish Home") - three.

The results of Tuesday's election were finalized Thursday after the votes of IDF soldiers were tallied. It was thought these additional ballots could nab Yisrael Beiteinu or the Likud party another Knesset seat, which would have put Likud and Kadima on equal standing in terms of Knesset representation.

Knesset seats are allocated after a party's votes are divided by 120, the number of parliament seats. About 28,000 votes are required per seat. Parties must garner at least 2 percent of the vote to be represented in parliament. The party closest to approaching the 2 percent minimum, the Green Movement-Meimad, is not expected to make the cut, as it would need more than 40,000 additional votes.

Excess voting arrangements allow parties with more than the necessary minimum to enter parliament, but less than the votes needed to nab an extra seat, to allocate "excess" votes to an allied party.

The military vote was not expected to nab Meretz a fourth seat. Zahava Gal-On, one of the Knesset's most highly-regarded lawmakers, is fourth on the Knesset list. President Shimon Peres will not begin consulting with the parties over the formation of a new coalition until next Wednesday, when the election results are officially published.

Kadima, Likud declare victory after final tally

Whoever thought that the announcement of the final election results would put an end to the bickering over which party emerged the winner - and which should form the next governing coalition - was mistaken.

After tallying the ballots cast by soldiers, the physically challenged, and diplomats from abroad, the central election committee confirmed that the apportionment of Knesset seats would remain as was announced on election night.

"Tonight the campaign led by Bibi (nickname of Likud chairman Benjamin Netanyahu) and the wheeler-dealers of the Likud aimed at stealing power and the will of the voter in Israel must come to an end," read a statement released by Kadima minutes after the official results were announced.

Kadima repeated its call for Netanyahu to join a national unity government with Tzipi Livni serving as prime minister. "With the completion of the vote count Kadima won and it is the largest party," the party statement read. "Netanyahu must accede to Tzipi Livni's call and join a centrist national unity government headed by her."

Likud officials responded to Kadima's statement with scorn. "Kadima's statement is pathetic and shows that it continues to spin some imagined reality instead of recognizing a political reality in accordance with the voter's verdict," a Likud communiqué read. "An absolute majority of Israelis wants Netanyahu as prime minister and clearly rejected Kadima's way which has failed."