LATEST: Herzog calls Netanyahu to congratulate him

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Herzog and Netanyahu. – Reuters

JERUSALEM – Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday morning to congratulate him on Likud’s win.“A few minutes ago I spoke with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and congratulated him on his achievement and wished him luck,” Herzog told reporters.

He said his leftist Zionist Union party would continue to be an alternative to Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud.

Herzog and his co-leader of the Zionist Union Tzipi Livni said on Wednesday morning that they will not stop fighting for the country of Israel despite their party’s loss.

“This morning has not been any easy one for us or our followers. We will lead and fight together with our partners to the Knesset with the values we believe in. We will fight for the Israeli citizens for social justice, diplomatic prospects, equality and democracy with hope and belief, in order to have a Jewish and democratic country, just and safe. We would like to thank everyone who believed in us, with all of our hearts.”

The Israeli elections took a dramatic turn in the early morning hours on Wednesday as official tallies from nearly all precincts indicate that Likud has opened up a significant lead over Zionist Union, a far cry from the virtual dead heat that television exit polls had reported Tuesday evening.

With 99 percent of precincts reporting before dawn on Wednesday, the Likud has emerged as the clear, undisputed victor in the elections.

According to the official up-to-the-minute tally, Likud wins 30 seats while Zionist Union comes in second at 24 seats.

The parties that follow are Joint Arab List (14); Yesh Atid (11); Kulanu (10); Bayit Yehudi (8); Shas (7); United Torah Judaism (6); Yisrael Beytenu (6); and Meretz (4). – Jerusalem Post/Reuters