JERUSALEM (JTA) – Tzipi Livni’s Kadima Party appeared to have edged Likud in voting Tuesday, Israeli exit polls showed.
Exit polls released at the close of voting for the 18th Israeli Knesset showed Kadima winning 30 seats and Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud winning 28.
Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu vaulted over Labor to become the Knesset’s third-largest party, with 15 seats, according to polls, and Labor falling to some 13 seats.
Official results were not expected to be available until the wee hours of Wednesday morning in Israel.
Kadima’s apparent victory puts Livni, currently Israel’s foreign minister, in the No. 1 spot to put together a coalition government with a minimum of 61 seats and become prime minister.
Voter turnout was higher than expected as Israelis went to the polls Tuesday on a stormy and cold day following a week of unseasonably warm weather, and after a compressed three-week campaign due to the recent war in Gaza.