After Netanyahu Win, Trump Confident of Middle East Peace

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Japan has continued to identify its differences with the USA on key Middle East issues, from Israel to Iran (it prefers engagement with Tehran to isolation, the Trump administration's default policy).

In a series of appearances before Congress, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo refused to say whether the plan would reaffirm Washington's decades-old backing of a Palestinian state, saying only that past plans have failed.

After 100% of the ballots had been counted, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud Party got 36 mandates in the Knesset, local media reported, citing the official results of the Israeli general election.

The president added an optimistic prediction for progress towards peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Should the New Right party of Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked break in, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's comfortable parliamentary majority would grow even larger.

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All of the right-wing and ultra-Orthodox parties have said they will recommend Netanyahu, with the exception of Yisrael Beytenu's Avigdor Liberman who has said he will not recommend Gantz but has not yet committed to naming Netanyahu. Earlier that night, Gantz had claimed victory. As a result of these consultations, the president is set to determine a candidate who will be given 42 days to form a new government. In recent weeks, Trump tweeted that Israel should claim sovereignty over the Golan Heights, land seized from Syria during the war with Arab countries in 1967, and days before the election, the US government declared the Iran Revolutionary Guards a terrorist organization, a decision that delighted Netanyahu and his hard-line supporters. You're right, I believe that the new government is going to try to approve the so-called French law, which in a way tries to stop all the investigations as long as Netanyahu is the prime minister; but I'm not sure that he will succeed, it's a possibility.

Tel Aviv Stock Exchange main indexes were up almost 1 percent in late trading on Wednesday, displaying confidence in a veteran prime minister who has overseen a humming economy and blunted various security threats, including from Syria.

It would be Netanyahu's record fifth term as premier.

When Netanyahu wanted to close his deal with voters last weekend, he reached out to the right, not the center.

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The Palestinians demand a full return to the borders that existed before the 1967 war when Israel seized the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.

Netanyahu's strength doesn't come from getting many more votes than his main challenger, retired Gen. Benny Gantz.

Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said that "Israelis have voted to preserve the status quo". We are talking about no less than 400 settlements (housing at least 400,000 settlers), all deemed illegal under worldwide law, as they violate the law of occupation.

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