Blue and White leader Benny Gantz intends "to talk to everyone" about forming a coalition after exit polls in Tuesday's elections appeared to show his party ahead of Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud, although neither seemed able to collect enough votes for an outright majority.
"According to the results, Netanyahu was unsuccessful in his mission," Gantz told supporters in Tel Aviv. "We, on the other hand, proved that the idea called Blue and White - a venture we started a little over six months ago - was successful."
"According to the results we currently have, it seems that for the second time, Israeli citizens have put their trust in us. More than a million citizens said no to incitement and division, and yes to unity. No to corruption and yes to integrity. We promised throughout the campaign, and I promise more vehemently now, that tonight the mission to repair Israeli society begins."
Gantz first paid tribute to the party activists who gathered at Hangar 11 in Tel Aviv port to hear his speech.
"Of course we will wait for the real time results, but as it seems, we have accomplished our mission and stood firm in our path," he said.
"Blue and White has been and remains a major and central force in the political sphere and this is down to you. So I would like to thank you first," he said.
The former IDF chief also thanked his wife and children, "who supported me and accompanied me and saw very little of me at home," and his partners in Blue and White – Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid and fellow former army chiefs Moshe Ya'alon and Gabi Ashkenazi.
He added: "Israeli society is strong and vital. Nonetheless, it is wounded and it is now time to heal it. We will seek and find consensus from Israeli citizens and share a common prayer for the peace of the state and the peace of all its citizens."
Gantz said he had managed to speak with Labor leader Amir Peretz and Meretz head Nitzan Horowitz, and that he intended to talk to everyone.
Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman, whose party appears to have emerged as the kingmaker of the elections Tuesday, said he sees a unity government with Blue and White and Likud as "the only option."
Gantz, however, has said he will not join a government with Netanyahu due to the latter's criminal investigations,