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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Netanyahu: Israel, US Each Other's Greatest Allies

by VOA News March 19, 2015

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the United States and Israel are each other's greatest allies and have no choice but to work together.

In an interview with NBC Thursday, Netanyahu said there are so many areas in which the two nations must collaborate that they have no other alternative.

Netanyahu has not spoken with U.S. President Barack Obama since the resounding win Tuesday by his conservative Likud party in Israel's parliamentary election, but he expects the two leaders will be in touch soon.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called Netanyahu on Wednesday to congratulate him on the victory.

Israel's election was viewed closely regarding its impact on U.S.-Israeli relations. Differences on key issues, including the Iran nuclear negotiations and stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, have triggered tensions between the two governments.

Earlier this month, Netanyahu gave an impassioned speech before the U.S. Congress against an Iran nuclear deal being negotiated by the U.S. and five other world powers. He also said just before the polls opened Tuesday he would never support a Palestinian state, reversing a position he had held during his administration as Israel and the Palestinians conducted peace talks that eventually broke down.

On Wednesday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said unprecedented security cooperation between the U.S. and Israel will continue. He also voiced support for a two-state solution with Israel and the Palestinians.

Zionists rule out coalition

Meanwhile, Isaac Herzog, whose Zionist Union finished second in Israel's parliamentary elections, said the party will not join Netanyahu's next coalition government. Herzog told Israel's Army Radio the Zionist Union will be an opposition force to 'challenge a narrow right-wing government.'

Netanyahu's Likud party won 30 seats in the 120-member body, beating out the Zionist Union's 24 and putting the prime minister in position to cobble together a government and serve a fourth term.

Netanyahu says he plans to form a government in the next two to three weeks and has already spoken with smaller parties to form the 61-seat coalition he needs to govern.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he does not think the Israeli government will be serious about achieving a political solution that will lead to the creation of two states.

Abbas also said the Palestinians would continue to seek 'international legitimacy,' a reference to their attempt to achieve statehood unilaterally through the United Nations and other international bodies.

A U.N. spokesperson, speaking on behalf of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, said it will be incumbent on the new Israeli government to create the conditions leading to a final peace deal with the Palestinians. He said Israel should take steps including a cessation of illegal settlement-building on occupied Palestinian land.

In Brussels, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said the bloc is committed to working with the incoming Israeli government on a 'mutually beneficial relationship' and on re-launching the Middle East peace process.

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