Israel Feature: Netanyahu Claims Victory in Knesset Elections

Seeking a fourth term in office, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has claimed victory in Wednesday’s Knesset elections, with his Likud Party taking the largest number of seats.

See http://eaworldview.com/2015/03/israel-audio-analysis-what-netanyahus-victory-means-at-home-and-abroad/

Likud has 30 seats, followed by the center-left challenger Zionist Union — an alliance of the Labor and Hatnua lists — with 24. The Joint Arab List has 14; the centrist Yesh Atid 10; Kulanu, led by former Likud politician Moshe Kahlon, 10; the right-wing Jewish Home, led by Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, 8.

Other seats have been claimed by the religious parties Shas (7) and United Torah Judaism (6); the right-wing Yisrael Beytenu of former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman (6); and the left-wing Meretz (4).

Netanyahu and Likud prevailed despite polls indicating a slight lead for Zionist Union. Meretz also fared poorly, compared to expectations.

Netanyahu is now trying to forge a majority in the 120-seat Knesset. He has spoken with Jewish Home’s Bennett, Kulanu’s Kahlon, Yisrael Beytenu’s Lieberman, Shas’s Aryeh Deri, and United Torah Judaism’s Yaakov Litzman. A combination of those groups would hold the Knesset with 68 MKs.

The Prime Minister said he hopes to complete the coalition within two to three weeks.

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Scott Lucas is Professor of International Politics at the University of Birmingham and editor-in-chief of EA WorldView. He is a specialist in US and British foreign policy and international relations, especially the Middle East and Iran. Formerly he worked as a journalist in the US, writing for newspapers including the Guardian and The Independent and was an essayist for The New Statesman before he founded EA WorldView in November 2008.

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