Source: VancouverSunStunning setback for Netanyahu as Israel election ends in deadlock
By Amy Teibel
January 22, 2013
JERUSALEM - Israel's parliamentary election ended Wednesday in a stunning deadlock between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's hard-line bloc and centre-left rivals, forcing the badly weakened leader to scramble to cobble together a coalition of parties from both camps, despite dramatically different views on Mideast peacemaking and other polarizing issues. Israeli media said that with 99.8 per cent of votes counted, each bloc had 60 of parliament's 120 seats.
A startlingly strong showing by a political newcomer, the centrist Yesh Atid (There is a Future) party, turned pre-election forecasts on their heads and dealt Netanyahu his surprise setback in Tuesday's vote. Yesh Atid's leader, Yair Lapid, has said he would only join a government committed to sweeping economic changes and a serious push to resume peace talks with the Palestinians, which have languished throughout Netanyahu's four-year tenure. Lapid said he would not be a "fig leaf" for a hard-line agenda on peacemaking. A leading party member, Yaakov Peri, said Yesh Atid it would not join unless the government pledges to begin drafting the ultra-Orthodox into the military, lowers the country's high cost of living and returns to peace talks. That stance could force Netanyahu to make overtures — perhaps far more sweeping than he imagined — to get negotiations moving again.