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Netanyahu: Hamas wants weak Likud
Published Sunday 20/01/2013 (updated) 21/01/2013 10:22
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Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks on the phone to
persuade citizens to vote for his party at the Likud-Yisrael Beitenu
headquarters in Tel Aviv Jan. 17, 2013. (Reuters/Baz Ratner)
JERUSALEM (Reuters) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Saturday a country with as many enemies as Israel cannot afford a weak ruling party, after polls ahead of Tuesday's parliamentary election showed a slide in his support.

Two polls on Friday showed Israel's right-wing and religious bloc winning a slim parliamentary majority of 63 out of 120 seats, with Netanyahu's Likud-Beitenu group on course to be the largest party in the Knesset, albeit with eroding support.

Iran, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Hamas in Gaza, were all following the election, Netanyahu said.

"(They) want to know one thing, whether the ruling party has grown or shrunk. They want a weak Israel, a divided one and the most challenged country in the world must not be divided," Netanyahu told Channel Two's "Meet The Press".

Netanyahu says dealing with Iran's nuclear ambitions will be his priority. Israel and the West suspect that Iran is working to develop nuclear weapons, an allegation Teheran denies.

The polls in Haaretz and Yedioth Ahronoth newspapers both showed Netanyahu's party winning 32 seats, its poorest predicted showing so far and some 10 seats fewer than Likud and Yisrael Beitenu took in 2009 when they ran separately.

Despite the slippage in polls, Netanyahu is still in prime position to secure a third term in office. But a relatively weak showing at the ballot box would make him more susceptible to the demands of his prospective coalition partners.

No one party has ever won a majority in a parliamentary election in Israel and Netanyahu's government would have to rely on smaller parties for its survival.

Those parties are likely to include Netanyahu's natural allies, the fiercely pro-settler Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) which has been surging in the polls and ultra-Orthodox Shas and United Torah Judaism.

Netanyahu may also face more pressure from abroad, with international condemnation growing over the expansion of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The Palestinians say Israeli settlements, illegal under international law, will deny them a viable state.

But in newspaper interviews published on Friday, Netanyahu said he would not give in to calls to halt or reverse his settlement drive and said a strong ruling party would be better able to deal with international pressure.

Israeli commentators said Netanyahu might seek a partnership with at least one centrist party to bring a more moderate voice into his cabinet and try to allay international concerns.
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1 ) Sami, the bedouin / Palestine
20/01/2013 15:53
I dont think Hamas wants so .... I personally want strong Likud simply because I hate the zionist snakes of "peace" ... and ... because precisely within the zionist arrogance lies their inevitable doom !!

2 ) JoeFattal / USA
20/01/2013 17:08
Isarel's enemies they created, friends they have to earn. Netanyahu said that Iran is their problem not settlements. Than stop building settlements in the occupy terretories and win the Palestinians friendship and deal with Iran as you see fit, and see how quick Hamas and Hezbollah will seek a partnership with Israel. Building settlements and talking about peace do not leave the other side room to talk about. Netanyahu is a shrewed politician but he is going the wrong way about it.

3 ) Mel / USA
20/01/2013 18:28
Finally!Hamas has something in common with Constitutionalist &Liberal Americans,including my long-time Liberal Jewish friends(many direct survivors of the Nazi holocaust)&their adult kids,whoALSOwant a weak Likud-Shas-Beitenu mob of racist/bigots!BECAUSE,they view extremist Zionist-led Israel as an Insult to the WHOLE SOUL of global Judaism,Israel's Charter principles,& may isolate Israel MORE-if not destroy it-via NaZionist offensive abuse of Jewish POWER! No"purity"there,just SHAME&Zio-hate!

4 ) Himchek / Israel
20/01/2013 22:31
Israel will have to move more to the center ,or Bibi's coalition will fall apart within the first 90 day's after tuesday election.

5 ) gabi / australia
21/01/2013 00:56
Mel, it really is sad that those Jews who oppose the occupation, (and there are a hell of a lot of them) whether for moral reasons, ie that it is totally against their religion, or practical reasons, ie that it isolates Israel from the rest of the world, can't get their voices heard without being branded anti-Semites, or, worse, traitors.

6 ) kobi / israel
21/01/2013 22:11
problem is, both hammas agreesion and pro palestinian radicals like mel are the source of power for likud and netaniahu! for they make israelis feel hated and threatened, so helping fear lead people into hardness, aggression and hate! help us' the sane israelis bring peace and hope by not empowering netaniahu and his fear based propaganda! if you dont accept israel's right to exist how do you expect israelis to acknowledge justice should be for all?

7 ) Mukawama / Jordan
22/01/2013 05:33
sami the bediouin couldnt be more right....i rather wait for full liberation that would take 20 years to achieve than accept a bantustan in the west bank and give up on the right of return one secular state where jews and palestinians live in full equality is the only fair and just solution
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