Benjamin Netanyahu's victory will not hamper US efforts to reach a nuclear deal with Iran, according to the State Department. The Israeli prime minister’s right-wing Likud will hold about a quarter of Knesset seats.
US Secretary of State John Kerry congratulated Netanyahu on Wednesday, but the men did not discuss substantive issues because talks to form a new government continue, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. She added that Netanyahu's victory on Tuesday would not affect US policy toward Iran. The prime minister opposes any easing of sanctions on Iran and, at the invitation of congressional Republicans during his campaign, went to Washington to lobby US lawmakers against an agreement.
"We don't think that his win has impacted the Iran negotiations - or will," Psaki said on Wednesday.
On Wednesday, the White House announced that President Barack Obama would call Netanyahu in "the coming days," but that the administration would have to parse remarks by the prime minister that he now opposes a Palestinian state, which runs contrary to long-standing US policy. "Based on Prime Minister Netanyahu's comments, the United States will re-evaluate our position and the path forward in this situation," spokesman Josh Earnest said.
‘Negotiated final peace'
In the final days of campaigning ahead of Israel's election on Tuesday, Netanyahu said he would not permit the creation of a Palestinian state under his watch and also promised to go on building settlements on occupied land. On Wednesday, Ban Ki-moon's spokesman said that the UN secretary-general, like the European Union, welcomed the preliminary results of the election and hoped for a rapid return to negotiations toward a Palestinian state in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, lands Israel captured in the 1967 war.
"It is incumbent on the new Israeli Government, once formed, to create the conditions for a negotiated final peace agreement, with the active engagement of the international community, that will end the Israeli occupation and realize the creation of a viable Palestinian state, living in peace and security alongside Israel," Farhan Haq, Ban's spokesman, told reporters.
Netanyahu intends to quickly build a new government with parties from nationalist, religious and ultra-Orthodox parties. A coalition would need 61 seats in the Knesset.
mkg/jil (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)