Netanyahu-Liberman Joint List Leads Race, Surveys Show

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party members gave enthusiastic approval to his plan to team up with Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beitenu party in a bid to clinch re-election in January.

“Combining forces will give us the power to rule,” Netanyahu told a Likud convention in Tel Aviv late today in remarks broadcast on radio and television.

Polls show the combined ticket will enable Netanyahu to form a new ruling coalition with allied parties that give him a majority in the 120-seat Knesset and pave the way for his third term as prime minister.

Both Netanyahu and Liberman oppose placing a limit on new building in Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has demanded that such construction be halted as a precondition for resuming peace talks that have been suspended since 2010.

The two parties together would gain 43 seats, more than double the 20 seats that would go to its nearest runner-up, the Labor party, according to a survey published today in the Maariv daily.

A poll conducted by Channel Two television over the weekend gave the Likud-Beitenu list 42 seats, and one carried out by Channel 10 had it at 35.

Liberman praised the Likud’s approval of the plan in an e-mailed statement, calling it “an historic and important step that will strengthen the state of Israel and lead to an experienced and unified government.”

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