The Herald Bulletin

Afternoon Update

Breaking News

January 22, 2013

Exit polls: Netanyahu narrowly wins Israel vote

(Continued)

JERUSALEM —

But internationally, he has repeatedly clashed with allies over his handling of the peace process. Peace talks with the Palestinians have remained stalled throughout his term, in large part because of his continued construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

Netanyahu himself has only grudgingly voiced conditional support for a Palestinian state, and his own party is now dominated by hard-liners who oppose even this. A likely coalition partner, Naftali Bennett of the Jewish Home Party, which won 12 seats, has called for annexing large parts of the West Bank, the core of any future Palestinian state.

Palestinians viewed the election results grimly, seeing it as entrenching a pro-settlement government.

"Even if Netanyahu brings some center-left parties to his coalition, he will continue building in the settlements, he said that clearly and that is what we expect him to do," said Mohammed Shtayeh, an aide to the Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

In all, 32 parties ran in the election, and 11 won enough votes to enter parliament, according to the exit polls. Israelis vote by putting a slip with a party's initials into an envelope and dropping the envelope into a ballot box, so the process of counting all the votes by hand takes many hours.

Two hours after the polling stations closed, the official Election Commission had published results of only 60,000 votes out of about 3.5 million cast.

In a sign of the times, many Israelis advertised their voting choice by photographing their ballot slips and uploading them to Facebook.

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