With the final votes counted from Israel’s elections, the results show that the Israeli electorate shifted to the center casting more votes for Israel’s larger, center-left and center-right parties. This election eliminated the presence of some smaller parties in the Knesset, leaving ten parties, the fewest number of parties in the Knesset since 1992, partially a result of the raised electoral threshold. Additionally, the Ultra-Orthodox parties lost considerably, while the Joint List Party, the combination of four Arab political parties, gained significantly.
In an interview on Thursday, newly re-elected Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated his position on the two-state solution, telling MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell that “I haven’t changed my policy. I never retracted my speech at Bar Ilan University six years ago calling for a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish State. What has changed is the reality. Abu Mazen, the Palestinian leader, refuses to recognize the Jewish state, has made a pact with Hamas that calls for the destruction of the Jewish state.” He continued, “I don’t want a one-state solution. I want a sustainable, peaceful two-state solution.” The Prime Minister clarified his position on the Palestinian issue after he incurred criticism resulting from an interview that he gave on Monday, the day before the Israeli elections.
Following Netanyahu and the Likud Party’s victory, world leaders sent their congratulations. British Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted out: “As one of Israel’s firmest friends, the UK looks forward to working with the new government,” while Indian Prime Minister Modi tweeted in Hebrew writing, “Mazel tov, my friend Bibi Netanyahu. I remember our meeting in New York last September warmly.” U.S. President Barack Obama called the Israeli leader on Thursday and “emphasized the importance the United States places on our close military, intelligence, and security cooperation with Israel, which reflects the deep and abiding partnership between both countries."
A draft of a nuclear deal that would remove economic sanctions and all restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activities in as little as ten years, while allowing the country to continue operating thousands of centrifuges, has been circulating in Lausanne, Switzerland, where the negotiations between the P5+1 nation and Iran are continuing, the Associated Press (AP) reported today.
The very existence of a draft in circulation provided perhaps the clearest indication the sides were nearing a written agreement as they raced to meet a March 31 deadline for a framework pact. The deadline for a full agreement is the end of June.
Officials said the tentative deal imposes new limits on the number of centrifuges Iran can operate to enrich uranium, a process that can lead to nuclear weapons-grade material. The sides are zeroing in on a cap of 6,000 centrifuges, officials said, down from the 6,500 they spoke of in recent weeks. …
But U.S. officials insist the focus on centrifuge numbers alone misses the point. Combined with other restrictions on enrichment levels and the types of centrifuges Iran can use, Washington believes it can extend the time Tehran would need to produce a nuclear weapon to at least a year for the 10 years it is under the moratorium. Right now, Iran would require only two to three months to amass enough material if it covertly seeks to “break out” toward the bomb.
The United States originally insisted that Iran maintain no more than 1,500 centrifuges, and last year raised the limit to 4,000. 6,000 centrifuges would be sufficient if Iran plans to build a nuclear bomb, but not enough for a civilian nuclear power generation program.