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Netanyahu Remains Prime Minister of Israel

March 19, 2015
Plain English Version
Likud Party celebrating election victory.

Likud Party celebrating election victory.

The Likud Party won enough seats in Israel’s election to stay in power. It is the party of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. His party won 30 seats in the 120 member Knesset (Parliament). The rival Zionist Union Alliance won 24 seats.

The Joint List Party of Israeli-Arabs came in third with 13 seats.

The President of Israel has asked Mr. Netanyahu to form a government. He must forge a coalition with the smaller parties. A majority will elect Mr. Netanyahu as Prime Minister. This process is much like the governments in other countries, such as Great Britain.

The Israeli election drew worldwide attention. Israel and the United States have been allies since Israel was founded in 1948. Israel is a democracy in the Middle East. Countries in the area, such as Syria and Iraq, are in the middle of violent armed conflict. Authoritarians rule in other countries, such as Egypt.

A big issue in the campaign is the relationship between Israel and the United States. There are differences between Mr. Netanyahu and President Obama. They disagree over the Israeli policy of building settlements in occupied territories (Israel calls them disputed territories).

Another disagreement is how to deal with Iran. Iran is talking with the United States and other nations about limiting Iran’s nuclear program. Iran has threatened to destroy Israel if it can. Only a nuclear bomb would make that possible. Israel does not want the agreement to give Iran a chance of building a nuclear bomb.

Relations between Mr. Netanyahu and President Obama have turned sour. One reason is Mr. Netanyahu’s speech to the U.S. Congress. He was invited by the Speaker of the House, not the president.

Experts expect tensions will ease. Israel has strong support in America. The country has a large Jewish population. Most Republicans and most Democrats support Israel. The two nations need to stay united against the threat posed by Islamic terrorists in the Middle East.

Source: The New York Times March 17, 2015

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