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The Murder of Yasser Arafat: "Powerful" - The Times of London

Friday, 20 February 2009

Bibi poised to be chief with boost from right

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Friday, February 20th 2009

BY Matthew Kalman
DAILY NEWS WRITER

JERUSALEM - Hard-liner Benjamin Netanyahu was poised to return as Israel's prime minister after a maverick right-winger endorsed him Thursday in the wake of the country's indecisive elections.

Israel Is Our Home, the party headed by Avigdor Lieberman, a former nightclub bouncer from Moldova, won 15 of 120 Knesset parliament seats in last week's election, catapulting him into third place. With Netanyahu and centrist candidate Tzipi Livni in a dead heat, Lieberman's support for Netanyahu would tip the balance of power to Netanyahu.

Lieberman's rise has aroused concern in the U.S., where the Obama administration is trying to kick-start the peace process.

Livni's centrist Kadima Party won with 28 seats while Netanyahu came in second with 27. Livni offered a rotating premiership with Netanyahu in a broad unity coalition, but Netanyahu demanded leadership.

Both need Lieberman's support to form a coalition with a working majority. Lieberman's support for Netanyahu came with strings attached.

"We recommend Benjamin Netanyahu only in the framework of a broad government," Lieberman said.

Livni signaled that she would not join a coalition government, but President Shimon Peres summoned Netanyahu and Livni to his official residence today to urge them to set aside differences and work together.

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