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Israel PM Netanyahu strikes last-minute coalition deal

Netanyahu has struck a deal with Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett. Credit: Reuters

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has formed a last-minute coalition government, shortly before a deadline to do so was set to expire.

The coalition will rule by a slender majority after receiving the support of the far-right Bayit Yahudi (Jewish Home) party following hours of discussions over cabinet positions.

The announcement came two months after Netanyahu won victory in Israel's elections, and only two hours before a deadline mandated by law.

As well as Bayit Yahudi and the Prime Minister's leading Likud party, the coalition will include the orthodox United Torah Judaism and Shas parties, and Kulanu, a centrist faction - forming a government of 61 out of parliament's 120 seats.

Former Israeli PM guilty of accepting bribes

The former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert Credit: PA Wire

The former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has been found guilty of accepting bribes in a retrial for corruption charges.

Lawyers for Olmert, who hoped to lead the country to a historic peace agreement with Palestine during his premiership, said they would probably appeal over the ruling by the Jerusalem District Court.

He will be sentenced at a later date.

Olmert was acquitted in 2012 of a series of charges that included accepting cash-stuffed envelopes containing hundreds of thousands of dollars from US businessman Morris Talansky before he became Prime Minister.

But Olmert's former office manager Shula Zaken later turned state's witness, offering tape recordings of conversations with Olmert about illicitly receiving cash, leading to a retrial.

Olmert was forced to resign in early 2009 amid the corruption allegations and his departure cleared the way for Benjamin Netanyahu's election.

Israeli PM condemns expected Iranian nuclear deal

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Credit: PA Wire

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has condemned the framework Iranian nuclear agreement being sought by international negotiators.

Speaking to his cabinet today, he said that the deal being negotiated between six world powers and Iran, as they work toward a March 31 deadline in Switzerland, was worse than his country feared.

"This deal, as it appears to be emerging, bears out all of our fears, and even more than that," he said.

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US reiterates vow for two-state solution in Middle East

Barack Obama said he told the Israeli PM the US is in favour of a two-state solution. Credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

US President Barack Obama said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's pre-election disavowal of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict makes it "hard to find a path" toward serious negotiations to resolve the issue.

In an interview with the Huffington Post that was published today, Mr Obama described his Thursday phone call with Netanyahu, two days after the Israeli leader was re-elected.

"I did indicate to him that we continue to believe that a two-state solution is the only way for the long-term security of Israel, if it wants to stay both a Jewish state and democratic," Mr Obama said.

"And I indicated to him that given his statements prior to the election, it is going to be hard to find a path where people are seriously believing that negotiations are possible."

Mr Netanyahu declared, before the election, that there would be no Palestinian state on his watch although he has since tried to backtrack from his comment.

Mr Obama said: "Well, we take him at his word when he said that it wouldn't happen during his prime ministership, and so that's why we've got to evaluate what other options are available to make sure that we don't see a chaotic situation in the region."

US to 'reassess' options after Netanyahu comments

President Barack Obama told Benjamin Netanyahu the US would "reassess" its policy options after the Israeli prime minister took a position against Palestinian statehood during the election campaign, a White House official said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama last year. Credit: Olivier Douliery/ABACAUSA.com

Obama called Netanyahu to congratulate him on his election win and used the opportunity to reaffirm US commitment to a two-state solution to the Middle East conflict.

But he also delivered another message, saying the US will need to "reassess" its options following Netanyahu's comments on the two state solution, the official said.

Final tally shows Netanyahu just five seats ahead

The final tally in Israel's general election shows Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing party Likud won by just five seats.

With 99.5 per cent of votes now counted, Likud claimed 29 seats in the election, while the leftist opposition - Zionist Union - won 24 of the 120-seat Knisset.

A coalition of right-wing politicians will now be formed over the coming weeks.

Opposition leader concedes election to Netanyahu

Israel's opposition leader has officially conceded in the country's hotly-contested general election.

Isaac Herzog, leader of the leftist Zionist Union party, said he had spoken to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and had congratulated him on the victory of his right-wing Likud party.

Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu has claimed victory Credit: Reuters

A few minutes ago I spoke with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and congratulated him on his achievement and wished him luck.

– Isaac Herzog

Despite exit polls showing the two parties as almost level, Mr Netanyahu has claimed a win and has invited other right-wing politicians to join him in a coalition government.

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