Key parties in Israeli elections

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 22, 2013 at 8:30 pm •  Published: January 22, 2013
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Summary of the main political parties competing in Israel's parliamentary elections. Exit polls show a small majority for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his hawkish allies. Final results expected early Wednesday.

—Likud: Led by incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Likud holds tough positions in stalled talks with the Palestinians and advocates strong international action — possibly including a last-resort military strike — against arch-enemy Iran's nuclear facilities. Netanyahu has grudgingly accepted the idea of a Palestinian state, though his party traditionally claimed the West Bank and east Jerusalem for Israel. Likud teamed up on a joint list with former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's ultranationalist Yisrael Beitenu for Tuesday's election, but the two parties have not merged.

—Yisrael Beitenu: The far-right secular party is the most hawkish in Netanyahu's current coalition and placed third in the last election in 2009. Its leader, Lieberman, has been indicted on charges of fraud and breach of trust, and the future of his party and his political career could hinge on how the case unfolds.

According to exit polls, the two lists took 31 seats together in the 120-seat parliament. Running separately, the two parties won 42 seats in the outgoing house.

—Yesh Atid: Founded by former TV personality Yair Lapid, the party represents secular, middle-class interests and says less money should be spent on settlements and stipends for the ultra-Orthodox. According to exit polls, Yesh Atid took far more than polls projected, 19 seats, which could make it the second-largest party in parliament.

—Labor: A centrist party led by former broadcast journalist Shelly Yachimovich. Labor hopes to gain votes with an emphasis on closing Israel's economic gaps and a moderate approach to negotiations with the Palestinians. Labor held second place in pre-eleciton polls after the joint Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu list. The party governed the country from its founding in 1948 until 1977, and twice since. According to exit polls, Labor won 15 seats.

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