- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has officially won reelection, according to Israeli media, but his Likud party is expressing disappointment.

The number of merged seats of the conservative parties — Likud with Yisrael Beiteinu — in the present Knesset is 42. The merger was expected to boost the number of conservative seats by 12, according to Ynet News. As such, the Associated Press has reported, Mr. Netanyahu is “badly weakened” by the election.

Still, tradition holds that the dominant party takes the lead in forming a coalition government — and in that sense, Likud is the clear winner. Mr. Netanyahu’s leadership is assured.

Undercutting the election results are complaints that nearly a quarter-million voters wasted their ballots by voting for alternative party candidates with little to no chance of capturing seats in the Knesset.

The Guardian reports that Mr. Netanyahu has pledged to reach out to as many factions as possible. His goal, he reportedly said, is to pursue a “genuine peace” with the Palestinians.

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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