World News Brief, Thursday March 19

Netanyahu secures leadership of Israel; Australia and Vietnam strengthen security ties; Japanese exports rise; lawyer for doctor who helped CIA find bin Laden killed; at least seven dead in suicide bomber attack in Afghanistan; and more


Netanyahu Wins in Israel

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party edged (Haaretz) out center-left challenger, the Zionist Union, winning thirty of the 120 seats in the Israeli parliament, Haaretz reported. Turnout was its highest since 1999, with 72 percent (WaPo) of eligible voters going to the polls. The victory puts Netanyahu on track to secure (NYT) a third consecutive and fourth term in office. The right-wing Likud party is now faced with the task of forming a coalition government with Israel's many small political parties. The White House said late Tuesday that it remains dedicated to working closely with Israel, despite souring ties in the lead up to Israel's election.


"The composition of the government will be decided by the game of post-election bargaining to form a coalition. When the result seemed more evenly matched, President Reuven Rivlin had said he favoured a government of national unity between Likud and Zionist Union. But that seems unlikely given the scale of Mr Netanyahu's victory," writes the Economist.

"A Netanyahu-led right-wing government will face growing international isolation, especially because of the prime minister's open commitment to stop the emergence of a Palestinian state. Repairing relations with President Obama would arduous. A hardening of America's position toward Israel at the United Nations cannot be ruled out, if West Bank settlements continue to expand. Israelis, for all their nation's extraordinary success, know how critical the alliance with the United States is; they are unhappy with the Netanyahu-Obama rift," writes Roger Cohen in the New York Times.

"Netanyahu may be able to put together a right-wing-only coalition, but we do not yet know if he wants one. Netanyahu has sometimes preferred to be a balancer in the cabinet, not the left-most guy in a right-wing mix. A 'national unity government' would allow him to play that balancer role," writes CFR's Elliot Abrams in the National Interest.


Australia and Vietnam Strengthen Security Ties

Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Tan Dung agreed to expand (WSJ) Australian-Vietnamese security relations and military ties on Wednesday, with deals to support and consult each other on regional defense and security issues at large. Both prime ministers called for self-restraint and warned against aggression in the South China Sea.

JAPAN: Japanese exports rose (Bloomberg) in February, up 2.4 percent from a year ago. The overseas sales exceeded expectations and suggest a bright spot in Japan's struggling economy.


Lawyer for doctor who helped CIA find bin Laden killed

At least seven dead in suicide bomber attack in Aghanistan

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