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Defeated centrist leader vows not to join new Israeli government, accuses Netanyahu of racism

Zionist Union party co-leaders Isaac Herzog listens to Tzipi Livni as she delivers a statement in the party's election headquarters in Tel Aviv, Israel, Wednesday, March 18, 2015, a day after Israel held legislative election. Netanyahu's right-wing Likud Party scored a resounding victory in Israel's election, final results showed Wednesday, a stunning turnaround after a tight race that had put his lengthy rule in jeopardy. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

Zionist Union party co-leaders Isaac Herzog listens to Tzipi Livni as she delivers a statement in the party's election headquarters in Tel Aviv, Israel, Wednesday, March 18, 2015, a day after Israel held legislative election. Netanyahu's right-wing Likud Party scored a resounding victory in Israel's election, final results showed Wednesday, a stunning turnaround after a tight race that had put his lengthy rule in jeopardy. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)  (The Associated Press)

The centrist front-runner defeated in Israel's parliamentary election this week says his party will not join the next government, and accused Benjamin Netanyahu of racism.

Isaac Herzog says his Zionist Union, which finished second in the vote, would sit in the opposition and "challenge a narrow right-wing government."

Herzog spoke Thursday to Army Radio. The latest tally from Tuesday's vote shows the Zionist Union got 24 seats, compared to Likud's 30.

Herzog criticized Netanyahu's campaign, saying it "touched on racism" and was based on "lies, hostility and fear-mongering."

In a last-ditch attempt to spur supporters to the polls, Netanyahu said Arab citizens were voting "in droves" and were endangering years of rule by his Likud Party.

The comments drew accusations of racism from Israeli Arabs and a White House rebuke.