- Title: FILE: Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu forecast to win election
- Date: 6th January 2013
- Summary: JERUSALEM (FILE, JULY 2008) (ORIGINALLY 4:3) (REUTERS) (*** FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY ***) VARIOUS OF NETANYAHU MEETING THEN U.S. DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE BARACK OBAMA
- Embargoed: 21st January 2013 12:00
- Location: Israel
- Country: Israel
- Topics: Politics
- Reuters ID: LVAA4L3QTLQGN1KMHG7QX33JT85S
- Aspect Ratio:
- Story Text: Israel's conservative Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is currently forecast to win the January 22 election easily.
Opinion polls see former foreign minister Tzipi Livni's centrist Hatenuah, kindred Yesh Atid and left-leaning Labour taking around 37 of parliament's 120 seats in the vote - collectively, enough to best the some 35 projected for Netanyahu's joint rightist list and, potentially, to form the next Israeli coalition government.
Netanyahu is a two-term premier who takes credit for the relative stability of the Israeli economy and appeals to the Jewish state's burgeoning religious-nationalist sectors by championing the settlement of occupied land.
The U.S.-educated Netanyahu, 59, has said he would not build new Jewish settlements in the West Bank but would allow existing settlements to expand.
Israel's festering international isolation has been seized on by former foreign minister Tzipi Livni, who as top diplomat in the former government pursued inconclusive talks on founding a Palestinian state.
Netanyahu's party which began the barrier around the West Bank is skeptical Israel can be secure if itthe occupation and criticizes Livni for being ready to give back land, including in Jerusalem.
Topping Netanyahu's national security concerns is the Iranian nuclear programme, in which Israel sees a mortal threat and against which Netanyahu has threatened military strikes.
Israel's threat has complicated diplomatic efforts to find a solution with Tehran which denies it is seeking to make nuclear weapons and has pledged wide-ranging reprisals if attacked.
Addressing the United Nations in September, Netanyahu set out a mid-2013 "red line" for Iran's uranium enrichment, signalling that Israel was postponing any military action.
"If these are the facts, and they are, where should a red line be drawn? A red line should be drawn right here. Before Iran completes the second stage of nuclear enrichment necessary to make a bomb," he said.
Many experts question whether Israel, even though it is widely reputed to have the region's sole atomic arsenal, is capable of taking Iran on alone. Some see Netanyahu's years of sabre-rattling as a bluff.
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