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Mon. March 2, 2015 EDITOR'S PICKS :  
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Issue: Israel's Jewish Identity. What Does it Mean?
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Wins Close Election

With 99 percent of the votes counted, Netanyahu’s joint slate with the hawkish Yisrael Beytenu remains the single largest party with 31 seats in the 120-seat Parliament. That is 11 fewer than the two parties held before the elections. The big surprise of the election was the next largest party, Yesh Atid, a new centrist party headed by TV celebrity Yair Lapid, which won 19 seats. Israeli analysts say the results are a blow to Netanyahu and shows the Israeli public is more centrist than had previously been believed. The next few days will see intense jockeying by Netanyahu to form a governing coalition. Netanyahu says he wants as broad a coalition as possible to enable Israel to stop Iran’s nuclear program. Israelis say the coming year will be decisive on that issue. “I am proud to be your Prime Minister, and I thank you for giving me the opportunity, for the third time, to lead the state of Israel,” Netanyahu told a cheering crowd at his headquarters. “The first challenge was and remains preventing Israel from obtaining nuclear weapons.”

Jordanians Go to Polls to Elect New Parliament; Islamists Boycotting

Jordanians are voting in the first parliamentary elections since the Arab spring began two years ago. The US-backed King is expected to give considerable power to the chosen legislature. But the Muslim Brotherhood, which won elections in Egypt last year, is boycotting the poll. They claim the electoral system is rigged against large, populated urban areas where it is stronger and favors rural tribal areas which tend to be more conservative. Jordan, which is also facing a financial crisis, has seen large protests against corruption. The government has promised the elections will be free and fair.

Kuwaiti Police Use Stun Grenades to Disperse Protestors

Kuwaiti police used smoke and stun grenades after hundreds of protestors gathered outside the capital to demand the dissolution of parliament and new elections. Political parties are banned in Kuwait, where the al-Sabah family ahs ruled for more than 250 years. Kuwait has also used its oil money to quiet unrest, but tensions have escalated recently.

Hamas Official says Moving toward Unity Government with Fatah

The deputy head of Hamas, Mousa Abu Marzouq said Hamas agrees that a unity government would be headed by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. “We want the incoming government to work on re-constructing the Gaza Strip, and to carry out all issues agreed between Fatah and Hamas,” he told Palestine TV. The new government, which could be announced by the end of the month, is meant to pave the way for national elections, which have not been held since 2006.

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