Update [2006-3-28 09:45PM PST by Oui]:

Exit Polls Show Center-left Bloc Winning 63 Seats

TEL AVIV (Haaretz) — The election results showed center-left parties gaining a total of 63 seats, with Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s Kadima winning 28 seats, Labor of Peretz did well with 20 seats, and the Arab parties nine to ten seats.

The Likud, which had hoped to block a center-left coalition, dropped to 11 seats in this election, far below the figures the party had hoped and a far cry from the 38 seats it won under Ariel Sharon in 2003.

Artists finishing a mural painting in Tel Aviv. Kadima leader Olmert on the right with a picture of his predecessor Sharon, with Peretz of Labor on the left.

Elections for the 17th Knesset

TEL AVIV (Haaretz) — Exit polls released as polling stations closed at 10 P.M. Tuesday showed center-left parties gaining a total of between 62 and 66 seats.

The results, if accurate, could mean that the Likud would drop to Israel’s seventh largest party, with the Russian immigrant-dominated Yisrael Beiteinu becoming the fourth largest list in the 120-seat house with 12 seats.

The Sephardi ultra-Orthodox Shas surprises by winning 13 seats, meaning it could have passed the Likud in strength, and has become the third party in the new Knesset. The results also showed the right-wing National Union-NRP taking nine seats, the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism six seats and Meretz at four.

In the largest surprise of the night, the Pensioners party was seen to win seven seats.

Likud Stunned by Collapse

Likud shocked over poor showing and MK Eitan calls for investigative committee

The ink on the exit polls is not yet dry and the knives have already been drawn: With poll results showing a complete Likud collapse in the election, party officials are already preparing for the day after.

The Knesset faction Chairman, Gideon Sa’ar, admitted election results constitute a “very difficult blow”. “In fact, this is the most serious blow suffered by the Likud since its establishment. Our worldview is now in the minority in the country…we must realize we need to rebuild the Likud.”

Knesset Member Michael Eitan already spoke with a number of senior officials during the day and Ynet has learned that he plans to demand an internal investigative committee to examine how the party reached its current state.

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