Kadima wins Israel's general elections

Israel's centrist Kadima party headed by acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has won the general elections, electoral authorities said on Wednesday.

With 99.7 percent of the ballots counted, official results showed that Kadima had won 28 seats in the 120-seat Knesset (parliament), followed by the Labor Party with 20 seats and Shas party with 13 seats, said the Central Election Commission.

The Likud party led by former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu suffered a major blow and only got 11 seats.

Earlier of the day, Olmert declared victory in a speech shortly after an exit poll conducted by Israeli TV stations projected his party's win.

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

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

The Kadima party, 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.

Olmert, who assumed the premiership after Sharon fell ill in January, has vowed to continue Sharon's policy and draw Israel's borders by 2010 by carrying out further unilateral withdrawals from the West Bank.

Source: Xinhua

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