News / Middle East

Israeli PM Working to Form New Coalition

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu waves to supporters as he stands with his party members at the Likud-Yisrael Beitenu headquarters in Tel Aviv January 23, 2013.
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu waves to supporters as he stands with his party members at the Likud-Yisrael Beitenu headquarters in Tel Aviv January 23, 2013.
VOA News
Preliminary election results show Israel's right-wing and center-left blocs winning an even split of seats in parliament -- a surprise result that leaves Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu working to form a new ruling coalition.

With more than 99 percent of the vote counted Wednesday, each side had 60 seats in the 120-member Knesset.

Netanyahu's hard-line Likud party alliance with the Yisrael Beitenu party led with 31 seats - 11 fewer than its 42 spots in the previous parliament.  The prime minister is expected to be asked to form a government, a task made more difficult by the unexpected success of centrist parties.

Surprises

Israel's Major Political Parties:
 
  • Likud: Israel's main conservative party; supports the Israeli settlement movement in the occupied West Bank
  • Yisrael Beitenu (Israel Our Home): Secular, nationalist party that wants to redraw borders so that parts of Israel with large Arab populations would be in a Palestinian state
  • Yesh Atid: Centrist party founded by former journalist Yair Lapid in 2012
  • Labor: Center-left party; supports renewing peace negotiations with the Palestinians and dismantling most Israeli settlements
  • Shas (Union of Sephardic Torah Observers): Represents Israel's ultra-orthodox Jews of Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and Spanish origin and advocates a nation based on Jewish religious law
  • Habayit Hayehudi (Jewish Home): Far-right party that advocates annexing more than half the West Bank and opposes the Oslo Peace Accords
The biggest surprise came from the secular Yesh Atid party, which won 19 seats, beating out the Labor Party's 17 seats and the 12 seats won by the far-right religious nationalist Jewish Home party.

Netanyahu claimed victory and vowed to form as broad a coalition as possible.

He told cheering supporters "the first challenge was and remains preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons."  He also said he hopes to "effect the kind of change the Israeli people are waiting for" with "the broadest government possible."

Nearly 67 percent of Israel's 5.5 million voters cast ballots Tuesday, a larger turnout than in previous elections.  Some analysts say the turnout may have helped centrists gain traction and win legislative seats.

Official tallies are expected next week.

  • Supporters of Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid (There is a Future) party celebrate at the party's headquarters in Tel Aviv, Israel, January 23, 2013.
  • Yair Lapid, leader of the Yesh Atid (There is a Future) party, gestures in front of supporters at his party's headquarters in Tel Aviv, Israel, January 23, 2013.
  • Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu waves to supporters as he stands at Likud party headquarters in Tel Aviv, January 23, 2013.
  • Head of the Jewish Home party Naftali Bennett arrives at his party's headquarters in Ramat Gan, near Tel Aviv, after exit polls were announced, January 22, 2013.
  • Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu touches the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City after casting his ballot in Israel's parliamentary election January 22, 2013.
  • An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man stands near a booth at a polling station in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Kochav Ya'acov, north of Jerusalem, January 22, 2013.
  • A Druze woman casts her ballot for the parliamentary election at a polling station in the northern Druze-Arab village of Maghar, Israel, January 22, 2013.

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Comments
     
by: JohnWV from: USA
January 23, 2013 6:11 AM
NO MORE WARS! Israel has ICBM nukes and openly threatens Iran; actually campaigns for war against Iran. Israel, not Iran, is the warmonger. Resolution lies with lifting all sanctions and compensating Iran for damages from the $$$ billions we will no longer be giving the Jewish state. American foreign policy must again serve American interests, not the Jewish state's paranoid pursuit of invulnerability, territorial conquest and apartheid supremacist empire in and beyond the Mideast. NO MORE WARS!

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