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    Mar 19, 2015

    Netanyahu wins new term in Israeli polls


    ISRAELI Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu beat the odds yesterday to win a resounding election victory that will likely deepen tensions between the Palestinians and the West.

    With nearly all of the votes counted, his right-wing Likud party was seen taking 30 of the Knesset's 120 seats, with the centre-left Zionist Union a distant second on 24.

    Exit polls had put the two parties neck-and-neck with 27 seats each, but the picture changed through the night as the votes were counted.

    Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog conceded defeat and congratulated Mr Netanyahu on winning a third consecutive term.

    The Likud leader pledged to establish a new government within weeks, and said he had already spoken with right-wing and religious party leaders whose support he will need to form a majority coalition.

    Mr Netanyahu had put security at the forefront of his campaign, arguing that he is the only one capable of protecting Israel from an Iranian nuclear threat and vowing never to allow the Palestinians to establish a capital in East Jerusalem.

    The Palestinians slammed Israelis for voting the Likud party, saying they had chosen "occupation and settlement-building" over peace talks.

    "Israel...did not choose the path of negotiations and partnership between us," senior Palestine Liberation Organisation official Yasser Abed Rabbo told Agence France-Presse.