Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, the winner of Tuesday's polling, said in his victory speech that the election marked a new chapter in Israeli history and that he planned to draw the country's final borders in the coming years.
Olmert, head of Kadima, did not explicity claim victory, dedicating his speech instead to outlining his governing plans. He said he was ready for new peace talks and was prepared to make painful compromises.
"In the coming period, we will move to set the final borders of the state of Israel, a Jewish state with a Jewish majority," he said. "We will try to achieve this in an agreement with the Palestinians."
Addressing Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, Olmert said: "We are prepared to compromise, give up parts of our beloved land of Israel, remove, painfully, Jews who live there, to allow you the conditions to achieve your hopes and to live in a state in peace and quiet."
"The time has come for the Palestinians ... to relate to the existence of the state of Israel, to accept only part of their dream, to stop terror, to accept democracy and accept compromise and peace with us. We are prepared for this. We want this," he said.
Olmert said he would not wait for the Palestinians indefinitely. "It is time for the Palestinians to change their ethos, to accept compromise as soon as possible. If they manage to do this soon, we will sit and work out a plan. If not, Israel will take control of its own fate, and in consensus among our people and with the agreement of the world and US President George Bush, we will act. The time has come to act," he said.
Olmert also praised Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
"Now, my heart is at Hadassah Ein Kerem, with the man who began it all. Prime Minster Ariel Sharon, our prime minister. The man who had the courage, the will, the stubbornness, to see things in a different way and make a change."
"Sharon changed his path, offered an alternative. Founded Kadima."
"Sharon should have been here to see his dream come true, but his body failed him. Thank you , Arik, myself, all MKs, Kadima members, voters, the Jewish people - I send you a warm hug and also a hug to Omri and Gilad and their families, who are by his bed night and day."
"Tonight a chapter in Israel's history has been closed."