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Netanyahu, Liberman team up for Israeli election

Story highlights

  • Netanyahu hopes to win a "clear mandate" by allying with Liberman
  • He faces early elections in January after a budget deadlock
  • The ticket could mean a slimmer chance for peace with the Palestinians

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman will run as a single ticket in upcoming elections, the two announced Thursday.

Netanyahu said having Liberman, the head of the nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party, join forces with the prime minister's conservative Likud party would produce a strong government and prime minister.

"I hope to win the public's trust and to get a clear mandate that will allow me to focus on the important issues," Netanyahu said in a statement issued through his conservative Likud party. "Such a mandate will allow the government to focus entirely on the enormous tasks ahead of us."

Netanyahu won office in 2009 and called early elections for January after facing a budget deadlock within his ruling coalition. His alliance with Liberman presents a formidable obstacle for rival parties in Israel's fractious political scene.

It also may signal a slimmer chance for peace prospects with the Palestinian leadership.

Liberman openly criticized Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas earlier this year, saying there would be no agreement with the Palestinians as long as Abbas was in power. Netanyahu's office distanced itself from Liberman's comments at the time, saying they did not reflect the opinion of the government or the prime minister.