Hamas calls Israeli election outcome irrelevant

JERUSALEM (AP) — A senior Hamas leader is dismissing the outcome of Israel’s election as irrelevant, saying “all parties are faces of one coin, the coin of occupation.”

Khalil al-Hayya said Wednesday that “there is no difference” between the Israeli parties, and pledged that Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers would continue seeking to “end the occupation and achieve our national goals.”

He spoke as right-wing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared poised to win a historic fifth term and cobble together a governing coalition of ultra-Orthodox and nationalist allies.

The Palestinian issue and prospects for peace negotiations were notably absent from political debate this election. In a last-ditch effort to rile his base, Netanyahu made a weekend vow to annex the Israeli-occupied West Bank, which would extinguish hope for a Palestinian state.