23 Jan 2013

Polls predict narrow Netanyahu election win

10:43 am on 23 January 2013

Exit polls from Israel's election suggest Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing alliance has emerged the winner despite losing ground to centre-left parties.

The polls predicted the Israeli leader's Likud party and allied ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beitenu would still be the biggest bloc in the 120-seat assembly.

The centre-left Yesh Atid (There is a Future) party is believed to have come second, followed by Labour.

The BBC reports Mr Netanyahu is expected to seek an alliance with a new nationalist party, Habayit Hayehudi (Jewish Home).

According to the exit polls, Likud-Beitenu would get 31 seats in the Knesset and Habayit Hayehudi 12.

The parties' campaigns have focused largely on social and economic issues rather than the prospects for a permanent peace agreement with the Palestinians.

There have been unprecedented protests against the rising cost of living and a recent report said nearly one in four Israelis lived in poverty.