The prime minister, who had earlier warned supporters that the Likud
government was “in danger”, declared on his Facebook page that
results represented “a wonderful chance for many changes”.

“It is clear that the citizens of Israel have decided that they want me
to continue in my position as prime minister, and for me to form as broad a
coalition as possible,” he wrote. “Starting tonight, I will
commence efforts to form the broadest coalition possible.” Earlier, the
prime minister urged voters to back Likud Beiteinu after casting his vote in
Jerusalem’s Rahavia neighbourhood, before visiting the Western Wall,
Judaism’s holiest site.

“Likud-Beiteinu represents all the people. The stronger Likud-Beiteinu
is, the easier it will be to lead Israel successfully,” he said.

His comments were aimed at reversing the surge in support for the Jewish Home
party, which advocates annexing large sections of West Bank land that the
Palestinians want for a future state.

A larger proportion of hard Right seats in the Knesset could force Mr
Netanyahu to retreat from his previous commitment to accepting Palestinian
statehood – dismaying Israel’s western allies, which have pressed for a
two-state solution.

The Foreign Secretary, William Hague, reflected that concern yesterday when he
told urged the United States to kick-start renewed peace talks.

“The changing of facts on the ground, principally settlement construction
on occupied land, means a two-state solution is slipping away,” he told
the House of Commons. “I hope whatever Israeli government emerges will
recognise that we are approaching the last chance to bring about such a
solution.” Last night’s results will be followed by several weeks of
horse-trading, as parties manoeuvre for cabinet portfolios in a new

Despite his heavy losses, Yesh Atid success combined with the Jewish Home’s
weaker than expected results could make it easier for Mr Netanyahu to form a
balanced coalition that does not leave him hostage to the hard Right.

“The Israeli Right is more hardline than it was, to the point where
Netanyahu is now one of the most moderate people on the Israeli Right,”
said David Horovitz, editor of the Times of Israel Website. “I don’t
think he would want to be the most dovish person in a Right-of-Centre,
ultra-orthodox coalition.”

Ayalet Shaked, the Jewish Home’s fourth-ranked candidate, hailed its showing
as “a great result” but said aggressive Likud campaigning had cost
it “one or two seats”. Asked about the possibility of joining the
government, she said: “I don’t know. It’s too early to talk about

Israel elections: Benjamin Netanyahu wins narrow victory –
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