JERUSALEM POST, HAARETZ (Israel), BBC NEWS (UK), CNN, NEW YORK TIMES (USA)
JERUSALEM – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu"s narrow victory for a third term as Israel's prime minister will force him to reach out to the surprise centrist challenger as he now faces the complex task of forming a new coalition.
Netanyahu’s Likud-Beitenu right-wing alliance lost a quarter of its Parliamentary seats in the Knesset, a humbling rebuke for Netanyahu who himself called the early elections as an overwhelming favorite with no obvious challenger, according to the New York Times.
Still, the Likud-Beitenu lineup still remains the largest grouping with 31 to 33 of the 120 Knesset seats.
This election’s biggest surprise came from the Yesh Atid party, a new centrist movement founded by television celebrity and political novice Yair Lapid, which came in second with 19 seats, according to the exit polls.
BBC News expects President Shimon Peres will soon ask Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to attempt to form a new government; coalition talks – notably with the Yesh Atid party -- may begin as early as next week.
"According to the exit polls, it is clear that Israelis decided that they want me to continue serving as prime minister, and that I form as broad a government as possible," Netanyahu is quoted as saying by the Jerusalem Post.
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Newly reelected PM Benjamin Netanyahu and Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid - Wikimedia
Speaking shortly after his narrow reelection, Netanyahu cited a number of principles his new government will embrace: security, preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, economic responsibility in the face of the global financial crisis, increasing equality in sharing burdens and lowering the cost of living, notably housing costs, CNN reports.