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    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

    Netanyahu Hurries to Form New Government Within a Few Weeks

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    Israeli General Election 2015 (52)
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    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is hoping to form a new right-wing government within a few weeks following his Likud party's parliamentary election win.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Newly-elected incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had little time to celebrate his Likud party's surprise victory in the Israeli elections, as he faces the challenge of forming a new coalition government.

    Exit polls predicted a neck-to-neck race between Likud and their biggest rivals, Zionist Union, but, with almost all votes counted, the ruling party emerged as the big winner after securing 30 seats in the country's parliament, the Knesset.

    "Reality isn't taking a break. The citizens of Israel expect us to quickly put together a leadership that will work for the sake of the country's security, economy, and society as we promised to do, and that is what I will do," Netanyahu's office said in a statement.

    The Likud statement said that Netanyahu hoped to form a new right-wing government "within two or three weeks."

    The prime minister added he had already spoken with the party leaders he plans to invite into the coalition, but did not mention Zionist Union's Isaac Herzog.

    Hergoz congratulated Netanyahu on the victory over the phone, according to the Haaretz newspaper, after Zionist Union won the second-best election result with 24 seats.

    The Zionist Union party has not yet explicitly ruled out participation in the new government.

    "We will lead the fight, together with our partners in Knesset, for the values we believe in. We will fight for the Israeli citizens for social justice, diplomatic prospects, equality and democracy in hope that we can maintain a just, safe Jewish and democratic state," the Zionist Union official statement read Wednesday.

    The election results saw the Joint List alliance of four Arab-dominated parties finish third, after an unusually high turnout by Arab voters helped the party claim 14 seats.

    "The list is a success story. More than 65% of the Arab public voted, and that was a positive referendum for the list and its future," the party's chairman Ayman Odeh was quoted as saying by Haaretz.

    The Joint List was followed by Yesh Atid, which had been the Knesset's second-largest party before the elections but won 11 seats in the new parliament.

    Prime Minister Netanyahu must put together a coalition of 61 lawmakers to have a majority in the 120-seat Knesset. A total of 10 parties passed the required vote threshold to win seats in parliament.

    More than 4 million Israelis, or 71.8 percent of eligible voters, cast their ballots on Tuesday, making it the highest turnout since 1999.

    Israeli General Election 2015 (52)


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