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Netanyahu lurches Israel to the right

Wednesday, March 18, 2015 - 02:18

A dramatic election comeback for Benjamin Netanyahu gives the Israeli leader a fourth term in office - but also signals an apparent lurch to the right and a renewed focus on security. Is Israel a better bet today than it was yesterday? David Pollard reports.

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A new dawn over Israel. Hardly a new leader. Benjamin Netanyahu confounding opinion polls - with a last-minute comeback. SOUNDBITE (Hebrew) ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU SAYING: "I appreciate the decision by Israel's citizens to elect me and my friends, against all odds and in the face of powerful forces, and I will do everything I can to care for the security and welfare of all Israelis". Netanyahu may now go down in history as only the second Israeli leader to hold a fourth term in office. The result isn't likely to go down well in Washington or Brussels. His strong lurch to the right over the past few days renewed a flagging campaign - but played on old fears over security. Defying Western policy ambitions with strong rhetoric against a Palestinian state - and Iran. Berenberg's Christian Schulz. SOUNDBITE (English) CHRISTIAN SCHULZ, SENIOR ECONOMIST, BERENBERG BANK, SAYING: '' What impact is this government with its renewed mandate going to have on these relationships between Iran and the US and the first indications are that it's likely to have a negative impact, so in that sense it's not good news.'' Netanyahu's focus is less clear when it comes to the economy. The cost of living and housing two issues tipped to bring victory to opposition parties. Critics accusing Netanyahu's Likud bloc of an an unyielding approach to social issues. Israeli expert, Professor Yossi Mekelberg of Regent's University. SOUNDBITE (English) PROFESSOR YOSSI MEKELBERG, REGENT'S UNIVERSITY, SAYING: ''The big question: does he really care? Under his leadership, poverty increased tremendously, more and more children live under poverty, and he plays Mr Security around the world. But at the end of the day, people really care about it.'' But Netanyahu must now seek coalition partners. And this man is seen as king-maker. Moshe Kahlon, leader of the centre-left Kulanu party, is a possible finance minister in a new cabinet. And, says Mekelberg, could bring 'social sensitivities' with him. SOUNDBITE (English) PROFESSOR YOSSI MEKELBERG, REGENT'S UNIVERSITY, SAYING: ''He has to compromise with him and maybe with Kulanu in the party, with Kahlon in the finance ministry, there will be adjustment, very necessary adjustment.'' That's in the future. Now, as is the tradition, Israel prepares for an intense round of political horse-trading to form a new government. A process that could take weeks to complete.

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Netanyahu lurches Israel to the right

Wednesday, March 18, 2015 - 02:18