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    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

    White House Avoids Congratulating Netanyahu on Election Win

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    The White House appears to be going out of its way to avoid directly congratulating Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his win in Tuesday’s parliamentary elections.

    Netanyahu defied the polls and earned a decisive victory over his closest rival Issac Herzog. Netanyahu’s Likud Party captured more seats in the Israeli parliament than Herzog’s Zionist United Party. The latest polls before the elections had Netanyahu running behind.

    White House aide David Simas hinted on CNN that President Obama hasn’t commented yet because the administration is waiting for Israel to complete forming its new coalition government.

    "We want to congratulate the Israeli people for the democratic process for the election that they just engaged in with all the parties that engaged in that election," he said. "As you know now, the hard work of coalition building begins. Sometimes that takes a couple of weeks. And we're going to give space to the formation of that coalition government and we're not going to weigh in one way or another except to say that the United States and Israel have a historic and close relationship and that will continue going forward," Simas added.

    Earlier on Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the election outcome will not change the long-standing relationship between the two countries. "The president has no doubt that the strong ties between the United states and Israel will endure far beyond this election, and that has been true for generations now. The US-Israeli relationship has not been subjected historically to partisanship."

    But it’s no secret that Obama and Netanyahu aren’t bosom buddies. The relationship between Netanyahu and Obama has be strained for some time now, with the White House criticizing the expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, and Netanyahu publicly backing Republican nominee Mitt Romney in 2008.

    The White House was further aggravated with Netanyahu when he recently spoke before a joint session of Congress at the invitation of congressional Republicans — without consulting with the White House — and slammed a potential nuclear arms agreement with Iran.

    In this victory, Netanyahu makes history with a fourth stint as head of the government, becoming Israel’s long-serving prime minister. 

    Related:

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    Netanyahu Vows to Prevent Creation of Palestinian State, if Reelected
    Netanyahu Party Wins Israeli Parliamentary Election - Final Results
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    Obama administration, President Obama, Zionist United Party, Likud Party, Netanyahu, Israel, Israeli elections
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