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Livni looks to lead unity government

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Tzipi Livni called on Benjamin Netanyahu to join a national unity government under her leadership.

"Today the people have chosen Kadima," Livni said in a speech late Tuesday night to party supporters following the release of exit polls proclaiming her Kadima Party had garnered the most mandates.

"The land of Israel does not belong to the right, just as peace does not belong to the left," Livni said, decrying Israel’s political divisions.

Netanyahu, the Likud chairman, addressed his supporters shortly before Livni, asserting that he would be tapped to form the next government. The right-wing bloc garnered 65 mandates to 55 for the left-wing bloc, according to returns. 

Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman, who spoke to both Livni and Netanyahu shortly after exit polls were released, told his supporters that his party "had determined the agenda of this year’s election — citizenship and loyalty." His party finished third with 15 seats.

Ehud Barak, head of the Labor Party, said his party would sit in the opposition and serve the people from there. The Labor Party, which fell to 13 seats from 18, is required to call new primaries within 14 months after a loss in general elections.

Livni met Wednesday afternoon in Jerusalem with Lieberman, who has said he has not ruled out recommending to President Shimon Peres that Livni form the next government. Netanyahu also met with Lieberman in the evening. He met  earlier in the day with Shas head Eli Yishai to begin exploring the formation of a right-wing bloc; Yishai has said he will recommend Netanyahu for prime minister.

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