Netanyahu turns to Iran after narrow election winBy Alistair Lyon | Reuters – 1 hr 46 mins ago
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Hawkish Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed victory in Israel's parliamentary election, shrugging off surprise losses to centre-left challengers and vowing on Wednesday to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
However, Tuesday's vote, which also disappointed religiously inspired hardliners, may deflect the premier's focus on confronting Tehran and resisting Palestinian demands as Israel's secular, middle-class demanded new attention to domestic issues.
That, in turn, might draw Netanyahu toward a less fractious relationship with his key ally, U.S. President Barack Obama, who himself embarked on a new term this week with great ambitions.
Exit polls showed the Israeli leader's right-wing Likud and the ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beitenu would remain the biggest bloc in the 120-member assembly, but with only 31 seats, 11 fewer than the 42 the two parties held in the last parliament.
If the exit polls compiled by three local broadcasters prove correct - and they normally do in Israel - Netanyahu would be on course for a third term in office, perhaps leading a hardline coalition that would promote Jewish settlement on occupied land.