INTRODUCTION: In Israel, counting of votes from the general election is underway with both sides claiming victory.
SV PULL BACK Peres and supporters at meeting.
Background: INTRODUCTION: In Israel, counting of votes from the general election is underway with both sides claiming victory. Early computer predictions indicated the Labour Party would win 49-seats against 48 for the ruling Likud group. But observers in Israel, quoted by the newsagency Reuters, said the balance of support from the minor parties would probably enable Likud to form the next government. Final results will be known next week.
SYNOPSIS: Labour supporters were putting on a brave face. The Party's chances of ruling depend on gaining support from the minority parties. In spite of the reported improbability of Labour winning support from the religious parties, leader Shimon Peres expressed confidence about his chances.
The other side was also optimistic. Likud leader Menachem Begin was greeted with enthusiasm by his supporters, and he responded by telling them he saw the election as a sign of support for his government.
Shimon Peres and his colleagues had fought long and hard to break Likud's grip on the Knesset. But early reports suggest the future of the country will be decided by the independent parties. The National Religious Party and three smaller religious groupings are expected to continue support for Likud rather than switch to the more secular Labour Party. Mr. Begin is also thought likely to try to win support from former Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan. Labour's only probable allies are said to be left wing independents, and possibly four Israeli Arab members of parliament.