Jerusalem Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and hard-line rival Benjamin Netanyahu both claimed victory Tuesday in Israel’s parliamentary election, but official results showed a race so close it could be decided by a third candidate — a rising power among the hawks.
Right-wing parties — including Netanyahu’s Likud Party — appear to have won a clear majority of 65 seats in the 120-seat parliament, which would give Netanyahu the upper hand in forming the next government.
However, with 99 percent of the votes counted, Livni’s centrist Kadima Party had 28 seats, while Likud had 27. Those results could change by a seat or two — enough to alter the outcome — when soldiers’ votes are tallied Thursday evening.
The winner of the election wasn’t clear in part because Livni could try to form a coalition with hawkish parties. It appeared ultranationalist Avigdor Lieberman, who based his campaign on denying citizenship to Israeli Arabs he considers disloyal, could single-handedly determine the country’s next leader with his decision of whom to join.