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Netanyahu set to remain Israel PM after surprise poll result

Netanyahu set to remain Israel PM after surprise poll result
Tallying 99 percent of the ballots, results showed the Likud party had garnered 30 seats out of the overall 120 parliamentary seats, with the Zionist Union winning 24 seats. Netanyahu announced on Wednesday that he intended to form a new Israeli government within two to three weeks, Efe news agency reported. He has already spoken to the parliamentary party leaders he considers as possible coalition partners, according to a Likud party statement issued on Wednesday morning.

The prime minister spoke with party leaders Naftali Bennet of the Jewish Home party, Moshe Kahlon of Kulanu, Aryeh Deri of Shas, Avigdor Lieberman of the Yisrael Beiteinu party, and Moshe Gafni and Yaakov Litzman of United Torah Judaism.

Netanyahu seeks, with the support of these parties, to achieve a majority of 67 seats in the 120-seat Knesset through a right-wing, ultra-orthodox alliance. Zionist Union leader Yitzhak Herzog called Netanyahu on Wednesday morning to congratulate him on his victory, Xinhua news agency reported.

“I welcome any result. I’ve spoken with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and congratulated him on his achievements,” Herzog said in a statement.

Herzog said he was planning to continue heading the Zionist Union camp, which many polls predicted would secure a lead over the Likud, along with Tzipi Livni.

Herzog and Livni formed the Zionist Union by joining their Labour and Hatnua parties, respectively, in December 2014 amid upcoming elections. Although Herzog did not reveal whether the list would join Netanyahu’s upcoming coalition or operate in the Israeli parliament opposition, member Shelly Yechimovich (Labor) said Herzog clarified to her they would not join a coalition headed by the Likud party.

“I spoke with Herzog this morning... he explicitly told me we are moving towards the opposition,” Yechimovich told Army Radio on Wednesday.

The results on Wednesday also showed that left-wing Meretz acquired four seats in the upcoming Knesset, two less than their six in the 2013 elections, barely passing the new electoral threshold of 3.25 percent of the votes.

Meretz’s chairwoman Zehava Galon announced on Wednesday morning that if - once 100% of the votes are counted - the party presence remained at four seats, she would resign her post to make room in the Knesset for number five on the party’s list, member of Knesset Tamar Zandberg.
Agencies

Agencies

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