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Netanyahu Faces New Challenges After Disappointing Election Results

GALI TIBBON/AFP/GettyImages(JERUSALEM) -- Voters in Israel have surprised Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu but not in a way he would have preferred.

While Netanyahu will stay his country's leader -- as was expected -- his right-wing Likud-Beiteinu bloc only retained 31 of the Knesset's 120 seats, while the centrist There Is a Future party took 17 seats and left-of-center Labor captured 17.

Likud-Beiteinu has 42 seats in the current parliament so its demise is considered an indictment of Netanyahu's hard-line policies.

Netanyahu had believed that other right-wing parties would perform better than they did, meaning that he will likely have to moderate his stances toward the Palestinians and building settlements in the West Bank by forming a coalition with centrist groups.

The turnout at Israeli polls was about the same as 2009, about two-thirds of eligible voters.  Pundits say that the large number of undecided voters before Tuesday probably accounted for the impressive showing of There Is a Future and Labor.

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