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UPDATED: 09:55, March 29, 2006
Israel's Olmert claims victory in elections
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Israel's Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert claimed victory early Wednesday after his Kadima party won Israeli general elections on Tuesday.

Olmert declared victory in a speech shortly after an exit poll conducted by Israeli TV stations projected that the Kadima party would win 29 to 32 seats in the next 120-member Knesset ( Parliament).

"We have been entrusted with the task of determining the country's character," Victorious Olmert told supporters at the ruling Kadima's election headquarters.

He said that he is ready for peace talks if the Palestinians show willingness for compromise in near future.

The centrist party, which was formed by still comatose Prime Minister Ariel Sharon last November, apparently emerged as the biggest party, but it still lacks an outright majority to govern on his own.

The Kadima will have to form a coalition government with possibly the Labor party, which came second with 20 to 22 seats.

Olmert, who assumed the premiership after Sharon's illness in January, has vowed to continue Sharon's policy and draw Israel's borders by 2010 to carry out further unilateral withdrawal steps in the West Bank.

Source: Xinhua

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