Netanyahu: I'm the Next PM; Livni: Nope, I'll Be PM

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 10, 2009 6:39 PM CST
Likud Party leader Benjamin Netanyahu addresses supporters at the Likud election headquarters at the convention center in Tel Aviv, Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2009.   (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
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(Newser) – Benjamin Netanyahu says the voters have spoken and it's clear that he'll be Israel's next prime minister, the Jerusalem Post reports. Rival Tzipi Livni says the same thing. "I've spoken to party leaders, and we have agreed to begin negotiations on a new government tomorrow," says Netanyahu. Exit polls show his Likud finishing a close second to Livni's Kadima, but he's counting on a larger right-wing bloc to give him the post. Says Livni: "Today the people chose Kadima. We will form the next government."

It could take days to iron out, and the final say may be in the hands of President Shimon Peres. He can give the post to whichever candidate he feels has the best chance to form a government. Because the ultra-hawkish Yisrael Beiteinu did well, that gives Netanyahu an edge. "Even if exit polls are accurate, there is no doubt regarding the only conclusion they point to," said Netanyahu. "The Israeli people have said their word in a clear fashion; the nationalist bloc, led by Likud, won a clear victory."