Israeli election ends in dramatic deadlock

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JERUSALEM — Israel’s parliamentary election ended today in a stunning deadlock between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hard-line bloc and center-left rivals, forcing the badly weakened leader to scramble to cobble together a coalition of parties from both camps, despite dramatically different views on Mideast peacemaking and other polarizing issues.

Israeli media said that with 99.8 percent of votes counted, each bloc had 60 of parliament’s 120 seats.

A startlingly strong showing by a political newcomer, the centrist Yesh Atid (There is a Future) party, turned pre-election forecasts on their heads and dealt Netanyahu his surprise setback in Tuesday’s vote. Yesh Atid’s leader, Yair Lapid, has said he would only join a government committed to sweeping economic changes and a serious push to resume peace talks with the Palestinians, which have languished throughout Netanyahu’s four-year tenure.

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