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US congratulates Israelis on election

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a statement at his office in Jerusalem on January 23, 2013
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a statement at his office in Jerusalem on January 23, 2013. The White House congratulated Israel on its election, and said President Barack Obama was likely to soon call Netanyahu, who was expected to for

The White House on Wednesday congratulated Israel on its election, and said President Barack Obama was likely to soon call Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was expected to form a new government.

Obama's spokesman Jay Carney declined to offer a commentary on the election results, pending the period of coalition building that will now take place.

"We congratulate the Israeli people on their election," Carney said.

"I think it's very likely the president will be speaking with Prime Minister Netanyahu."

Earlier, Netanyahu, who has had a complicated relationship with Obama, was surprised by a centrist electoral surge, and pledged to seek a broad coalition.

He was already facing rising international pressure to make progress on the stalled peace process with the Palestinians.

Carney reiterated that Washington also wanted to see direct talks between the two sides.

"We believe that what needs to take place is direct negotiations between the two parties that address the final-status issues and that result in a two-state solution that provides the sovereignty that the Palestinian people deserve and the security that the Israeli people and Israel deserves," he said.