Knesset elections indicates 'Palestinian resistance' victory: Hamas official

Ahram Online, Wednesday 23 Jan 2013

The Likud-Yisrael Beitenu alliance gained less votes in the Knesset race due to its failure in the last Gaza war, Hamas official claims

Supporters of Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid (There's a Future) party celebrate at the party's headquarters in Tel Aviv January 23, 2013 (Photo: Reuters)

Sami Abu Zuhri, Hamas spokesman, said Wednesday that the results of the Israeli Knesset elections show a victory for the "Palestinian resistance" after the week-long attack on the Gaza Strip in November.

"Netanyahu gained less votes than in the last election because he failed to confront the Palestinian resistance during the last Gaza war," Abu Zuhri said in a statement.

Abu Zuhri, however, pointed out that the change in the Israeli partisan map will not necessarily influence the current anti-Palestinian attitude in Israel, as Israeli party leaderships share a consensus on this issue.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority (PA), called on Israel to abide by the two-state solution and UN resolutions stipulating the establishment of a Palestinian state based on pre-1967 borders.

PA spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina said that the next Israeli government has to accept the two-state solution, halt all settlement building activities and recognise the UN General Assembly's decision to grant Palestine non-member observer state status.

"That is the only way to revive the stalled peace process; the awaited cabinet has to choose between achieving peace or maintaining the recent state of political stalemate that negatively influences all parties," he told the Palestinian Wafa News and Information Agency.

Israel's electoral committee said the list grouping Netanyahu's rightwing Likud and the secular nationalist Yisrael Beitenu faction had won 31 seats.

The national religious Jewish Home won 11 seats, as did the Sephardic ultra-Orthodox Shas. The Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism faction won seven seats, bringing the bloc's total to 60.

On the centre-left side, Yesh Atid came away with 19 seats, slightly ahead of the centre-left Labour Party, which won 15.

The HaTnuah faction of former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni carried six seats, as did the leftwing Meretz, while Livni's onetime party Kadima won just two.

Combined, the three Arab Israeli parties that crossed the electoral threshold to make a showing in parliament won 12 seats, giving the centre-left 60 seats as well.

Knesset Elections 2013
The new map for Israel's political parties following the announcement of elections' results (Photo: Haaretz)

The almost-final figures mirrored exit polls that were released Tuesday night after polls closed at 20:00 GMT and prompted the 15 or so activists at Yesh Atid's small Tel Aviv campaign headquarters to explode into cries of victory.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s government recently announced plans concerning the building of almost 3,000 homes in the West Bank, just before the UN vote on Palestinian recognition. 

The construction will take place in the highly sensitive "E-1" area of the West Bank, which lies between annexed East Jerusalem and the nearby Maale Adumim settlement. Netanyahu claimed that Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish people for "3,000 years."

On 21 November, Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced a ceasefire between Israel and the Gaza-based resistance movement at a press conference in Cairo after a week of conflict on both sides. 

Days earlier, Israel had launched a series of destructive attacks against buildings and media centres across the besieged coastal enclave of the Gaza Strip, including Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh's office, killing more than 162 Palestinians in non-stop airstrikes. Five Israelis died as a result of rockets fired by Hamas fighters into Israel.

On 22 November, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas spoke with Haniyeh by telephone to congratulate him on his "victory," according to a statement issued by Hamas.

Hamas, in return, expressed its support for Abbas's successful UN recognition bid, approved by the General Assembly on 29 November. Khaled Meshal, Hamas chief, argued at the time that the step would reinvigorate the stalled Hamas-Fatah reconciliation process.

The United States, along with other Western states and Israel, continue to argue that Hamas must halt armed resistance activities and recognise Israel in order to be included in any future peace talks.

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