The Israeli acting Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, declared victory in the Israeli elections early Wednesday while his confidants said that Shas and the Pensioners Party would be partner of the new Kadima-led government.

The statements of Olmert’s associates are apparently a reflection of the results of the elections since Kadima won far fewer seats than it has hoped besides that fact that the Shas and the Pensioners’ Party garnered more than expected.

Meanwhile, Haim Ramon, Kadima member, stated that he expects the new government to be presented directly after the Jewish Passover holiday.

Ramon told the Israeli Radio that Kadima needs the support of 70 to 80 Knesset members in order to be able to implement a withdrawal from the West Bank.

Also, Ramon added that the Labor party could be a possible “central partner” in the upcoming government and that “social issues will not endanger coalition talks”.

So far, 95% of the vote is counted, Kadima achieved 28 seats, which is less than expected, Labor party achieved 20 seats, while Shas rose to 13 becoming the third largest party in the Knesset.

Starting on Wednesday morning, elections observers started to count the votes of Israeli soldiers, diplomats abroad, hospitalized patients, imprisoned citizens and Israeli marines. Their votes will not significantly change the final results.

The Likud party only garnered 11 Knesset seats, while Yisrael Betenu party, which is a Russian immigrant-dominated faction headed by Avigdor Lieberman, achieved 12 seats.

The Pensioners’ Party won seven seats. The right-wing National Union-National Religious Party secured nine seats, with United Torah Judaism at six and Meretz at four.

The Arab parties in Israel won a total of ten seats, which is two seats more than the previous elections.
The Democratic Front for Peace and Justice achieved three seats, and the United List, which is a coalition of three parties, only won four seats.

The labor party came in the second place with twenty seats, while the Mifdal right-wing party garnered nine seats.

63.2% of the legitimate voters in Israel practiced their rights, this is 4.5% less that the 2003 elections. 56.3% of the Arab residents in Israel casted their votes.