Jerusalem, Sept 18 (Xinhua): Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday he will start negotiating with possible coalition partners to form "a strong Zionist government" in the wake of closely-fought elections.
Exit polls showed Netanyahu's main challenger, Benny Gantz and his Blue and White party had a slight lead in Tuesday's parliamentary elections.
"We are still waiting for the final results," Netanyahu told voters in the Likud party headquarters in Tel Aviv.
His supporters chanted "Bibi king of Israel," using his widely used nickname, and "we don't want unity," referring to several parties' calls for forming a unity government to heal the deep social divide.
Netanyahu said he will negotiate with other parties to form a governing coalition that is "committed to Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people."
"The government cannot base itself on Anti-Zionist Arab parties," he said.
Initial exit polls posted by Israel's three main TV channels showed Gantz's party had a slight lead over Netanyahu's Likud party in Tuesday's vote, hurting Netanyahu's chances of winning a record-breaking fifth term.
The polls gave Blue and White 32 to 34 of parliament's 120 seats, versus 30 to 33 for Likud. Neither party appears to have enough support to form a majority coalition in parliament with their traditional allies, raising possibility that they will have to form a broad unity government.
The unprecedented elections, the second in five months, were called by Netanyahu after he failed to form a ruling coalition following the April ballot.
The prime minister is accused of three corruption offensives and may face indictment after the elections.