CBNNews.com - JERUSALEM - As the final votes are counted in Israel's elections, both opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni claim they will be the next prime minister. Their two parties ran neck and neck in the voting. But the candidate who finishes first may not be Israel's new leader.
As the polls closed Tuesday night, it looked like a victory for Livni and the ruling Kadima Party. But as the makeup of the new Knesset becomes clearer, it appears Likud's Netanyahu, and not Livni, will have the best chance to form the next government.
Click play for more with John Waage on Israel's election process. Also, click here to watch Pat Roberton's comments on the pending outcome.
With some soldiers' and diplomats' votes still to be counted, Kadima won 28 Knesset seats, to 27 for Likud. But the right-wing Israel Beiteinu Party finished a solid third with 15 seats, ahead of Ehud Barak's Labor Party with a dismal 13 seats.
The ultra-orthodox Shas Party grabbed 11 seats and finished fifth.
Peres to Consult with the Knesset
Next week, President Shimon Peres will consult the Knesset and the members will decide who should have the chance to build a 61-seat governing majority. Both Netanyahu and Livni have begun negotiating with the other parties to build a coalition.
Beitenu leader Avigdor Lieberman will have a big role in deciding who will be the next prime minister. A former advisor to Netanyahu, Lieberman has said he wants a government of the right, and he says he won't join a government that allows Hamas to continue to rule Gaza.
"It's actually Benjamin Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman. It's up to them," said political analyst Boaz Shapira.
"They can have a right-wing government if they want to do it, or Netanyahu can also go a little bit to the center, give up Mr. Lieberman and make another government," Shapria explained. "But it is in their hands."
Some in Israel's political establishment are calling for Livni and Netanyahu to split the four-year term, with each taking a turn as prime minister. But neither camp wants to see that, as long as they think they can form their own coalition.