Center-left bloc leads in Israel election

March 28, 2006 at 9:35 PM
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JERUSALEM, March 28 (UPI) -- A center-left bloc appears to have won Israel's parliamentary elections, the Jerusalem Post reported Tuesday.

The outcome of the Knesset vote set up a possible center-left bloc of 60-67 seats of pro-disengagement parties Kadima and Labor, with perhaps a couple of minor parties, the Post said.

With 95 percent of the ballots counted, the election results for the 17th 120-member Knesset showed Kadima with 29 seats and Labor with 20, the Post said. The formerly ruling Likud Party was tied for third with 12.

The expected voter turnout of some 5 million eligible voters was some 66 percent, around 2 percent lower than the rate in the 2003 elections, the lowest turnout in Israeli election history, Ha'aretz reported.

Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his wife cast their ballots near their Jerusalem home early Tuesday.

In Ashkelon, 290 polling stations were delayed in opening, and in Safed only 55 of 120 booths opened at the appointed hour, the Jerusalem Post reported.

The Ashkelon delays were caused by three rockets launched by Palestinian militants from the northern Gaza Strip, which landed south of the city. No casualties or damages were reported.

However, two Israeli Bedouins, apparently a father and son, were killed in an explosion in an open field between the border community of Nahal Oz and the Karni crossing on the Gaza-Israel border.

Security forces determined the men had stumbled onto an unexploded shell in the field.

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