Israel faces an uncertain future after inconclusive elections left both main parties claiming victory. Early results indicated the Kadima party of Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni would win most seats. But the result was expected to be extremely close the right-wing Likud party, led by Benjamin Netanyahu, claimed it would be best placed to lead a coalition government.
Both leaders have raised the prospect of a unity government, and both have made the first overtures to other parties, including the far-right Yisrael Beiteinu. “With the help of God I will lead the next government,” Netanyahu told party followers in Tel Aviv. The outcome does represent a setback for Likud, which had led the polls for most of the election campaign. Livni remains hopeful of becoming Israel’s first woman leader since Golda Meier in the 1970s. “What we have to do now is form a unity government which we will lead. I make this appeal parties to our left and to our right,” she told a post-election rally. If Livni does emerge as the leader, analysts say she will be severely restricted by concessions to the right, and that will have a big impact on peacemaking with the Palestinians.