JERUSALEM, April 9 (Xinhua) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's main rival, Benny Gantz, declared victory in parliamentary elections on Tuesday night, vowing to unite Israel and be "everyone's prime minister."
"This is a historic day for Israel," Gantz said at the headquarters of his newly-formed centrist party of Blue and White in Tel Aviv as hundreds of supporters cheering and shouting "the next prime minister is coming!"
"I will be the prime minister of everyone and not just those who voted for me. No one from a party that is not ours should worry. We all need to think about how we can work together, how we can bring everyone into the discussion," he said.
Gantz, ex-chief of forces and a political newcomer, said Israel's long-serving incumbent prime minister needs to step down.
"We wish to thank Benjamin Netanyahu for his service for the state of Israel," he said, promising to form Israel's next government.
"The will of the voters should be respected," he said.
Exit polls on Israel's three main TV news channels showed contradicting results, with one poll indicating a landslide victory to Gantz's Blue and White Party while the other two showing a tied.
Both Gantz and Netanyahu claimed victory in the closely-fought parliamentary elections.
Official results are expected early on Wednesday morning.