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Israel's Netanyahu defends partnership with far-right party

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JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel’s prime minister is defending his partnership with a small ultranationalist party despite local and international condemnation.

Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted Saturday that the criticism, including from pro-Israel Jewish organizations in the U.S., was marked by “hypocrisy and double standards.” He accused leftist critics in Israel of having once acted “to put extreme Islamists into the Knesset” to weaken the right.

Netanyahu is seeking a fourth straight term as premier in Israel’s April elections.

Earlier this week, his Likud party formed a partnership with a smaller merged party that includes members of the Jewish Power movement.

Jewish Power embraces the ideas of the late rabbi Meir Kahane, who wanted a Jewish theocracy and advocated forced removal of Palestinians.

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In 1997, Washington classified his Kach movement a terrorist group.

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