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Netanyahu pledges peace, eyes better US ties

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) receives a letter from Israeli President Reuven Rivlin formally giving Netanyahu the task to form the next government, at the president's residence in Jerusalem on March 25, 2015Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu extended a “hand of peace” to the Palestinians Wednesday as he was formally tasked with forming a government after his surprise reelection following a divisive campaign. The prime minister also pledged to shore up crumbling ties with Washington while continuing to oppose an emerging nuclear deal with Iran as he accepted the task of putting together a new coalition government. Last week’s victory by Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party came after a bitterly fought campaign that exposed deep splits within Israeli society and a particularly damaging rift with key ally Washington. Netanyahu himself was at the centre of most of the controversy after he ruled out the establishment of a Palestinian state if reelected, pledged to build more settler homes in annexed east Jerusalem and played the race card at the expense of Israel’s Arab minority.

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