Tuesday, January 22, 2013

srael holds parliamentary elections, dealing a significant setback to current PM Benjamin Netanyahu and the Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu joint ticket. The next Knesset will be almost evenly split between the right-wing/religious bloc and centrist/center-left blocs, with the headlines dominated by the rise of centrist party Yesh Atid (‘‘There Is a Future’’) and its leader Yair Lapid. The final tally gives 31 seats to Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu, 19 to Yesh Atid, 15 to a resurgent Labor party, 12 to Naftali Bennett’s Jewish Home, 11 to Shas, 7 to United Torah Judaism, 6 each to Meretz and Tzipi Livni’s party Hatnuah, 4 each to United Arab List and Hadash, 3 to Balad, and 2 to Kadima. Voter turnout overall is high, with the estimated turnout for Palestinian citizens of Israel at 56%, according to figures cited by Army Radio. At the end of the night, Netanyahu says that he sees ‘‘many partners’’ for his ‘‘goals’’ and will seek to assemble ‘‘the broadest’’ coalition possible. (REU, AP 1/22; JP 1/23; JP 1/24)

British foreign secretary William Hague warns that it is almost the last chance to bring about a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and condemns Israeli settlement construction. (REU 1/22)

Israeli naval vessels open fire on Palestinian fishermen off the Gaza coast nr. al-Waha, causing no injuries. In the West Bank, Jewish settlers begin work to expand Halamish settlement nr. Ramallah. The IDF patrols in 2 villages nr. Ramallah in the morning, and in al-Bireh at night; conducts house searches and arrest raids in Hebron and 1 village each nr. East Jerusalem and Ramallah at night. (MNA, WAFA 1/22; PCHR 1/23)

Malaysia’s PM Najib Razak visits the Gaza Strip via the Rafah crossing. Pres. Abbas criticizes the visit as enhancing the Fatah-Hamas division. (MNA, NYT 1/22) 

The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate and the PLO’s Information and Culture Department condemn today’s arrest of journalists in the Gaza Strip by Hamas authorities. Most of those detained are affiliated with Fatah. (JP 1/22)