Declaring a win in the election, Israel's Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert appealed to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas early Wednesday to enter into negotiations over the permanent borders of Israel, but added that he would act alone if peace talks remained stalled.
"We are ready to compromise, to give up parts of the beloved Land of Israel," Olmert said in remarks addressed to Abbas, "and evacuate, under great pain, Jews living there, in order to create the conditions that will enable you to fulfil your dream and live alongside us."
"If the Palestinians are wise enough to act, then in the near future we will sit together at the negotiating table to create a new reality. If they do not, Israel will take its destiny in hand," Olmert said in a speech, according to Haaretz. "The time has come to act."
Abbas reacted Wednesday, saying the results of the Israeli election would have little effect unless Olmert agrees to peace talks. "We want negotiations and not to dictate unilateral solutions," he said in Khartoum, Sudan, where he was attending an Arab Summit.
With the vote on 99.5 percent, Olmert's Kadima party had 28 seats (out of 120). Labor held at 20 seats, and the ultra-orthodox religious Shas party rose to 13, making it the third largest faction in the Israeli parliament (Knesset.)
Thus, in order to lead a government, Olmert will have to seek additional partners to broaden his coalition. As things stand now it will be a difficult task for him to create a coalition that will support his plan for a further withdrawal in the West Bank.
The former Likud party had won just to 11 seats, far below the 38 seats it won under Ariel Sharon in 2003.
Avigdor Lieberman's Russian immigrant-dominated faction Yisrael Beiteinu gained 12 seats, positioning itself as the leading opposition party to head the right wing camp. This party promotes the idea to transfer the Arab citizens in Israel to the control of the Palestinian Authurity.