After leading Kadima the top spot in the televised polls, Chairwoman Tzipi Livni greeted hundreds of party supporters in Tel Aviv and called on her chief rival, Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu to form a national unity government with her as premier.
"Before the elections I offered you to join a national unity government led by me to take on the challenges facing the State of Israel. You declined and said the people must choose. Today the people have chosen – Kadima," Livni said.
"All that is left to do is to respect that vote, and to do what is right at this hour and join a national unity government led by (Kadima), that would be founded on the large parties in Israel from both Kadima's left and its right.
Immediately prior to Livni's speech Netanyahu delivered his own speech, vowing to cheering Likud supporters he would form a government under his leadership.
Livni's speech was interrupted several times by exuberant activists, and towards the end of her comments
one yelled – 'What about Gilad Shalit?'
Taking it in stride, Livni answered: "As the person responsible for sending soldiers out, I am responsible for bringing him back."
With a nod to the triumphant right-wing bloc, Livni said that the division of political force into camps is archaic. "I want to say this loud and clear – the land of Israel does not belong to the right, just as peace does not belong to the left."