Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has declared victory after a tight election. Exit polls showed the Likud party and opposition Zionist Union were deadlocked, but Netanyahu had a clearer path to form a coalition.
In a statement released on Twitter late on Tuesday, Netanyahu said that "against all odds" his Likud party and the nationalist camp had secured a "great victory."
Netanyahu said he had already begun calling potential partners as prepares plans to form the country's next coalition government.
Disappointment for Labor
Last week, Israel's Labor party, the Zionist Union, said they had been hoping to end the election with a wide gap ahead of Netanyahu's nationalist Likud party.
Following the election, however, Israeli television polls, for Channel 10 and Channel 1, said Likud and Herzog's Zionist Union had each secured 27 seats in the 120-member Knesset. Channel 2 gave Netanyahu a narrow edge, with 28 to 27.
Prior to Tuesday's poll, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said he would meet with both leading candidates to discuss forming a national unity government if there was no clear winner.
If both sides couldn't agree on political and socio-economic issues, he said that they should at least work to reform the country's electoral system, so that Israel doesn't "turn into Italy" and hold early elections every two years.
Both Netanyahu and Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog oppose the election reform plan, however.
Final results are not expected until early on Wednesday morning.
ksb/bk (Reuters, AFP, AP)