Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Netanyahu and allies poised for return to power

by Clifford F. Thies

Five polls conducted over the weekend indicate that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his political allies are in good shape going into the forthcoming election.

In the 2009, Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu obtained 42 seats in the 120-seat Knesset, following which Netanyahu assembled a robust majority from among the religious parties and Ehud Barak's faction of the Labor Party. Taking all five polls into account, the newly combined party looks slated for 38 seats, by far the largest single party.

The religious parties - Shas, Habayit and some smaller parties - are indicated to gain more than enough seats for the new Likud party to form a majority coalition from among two or more of them.

Labour has resumed its place as the chief rival to Likud, but with only about half the support. A potential ally on the left, Meretz, may or may not qualify for the Knesset.

There appear to be two significant parties of the center, Tzipi Livni's new Hatnuah party and Yair Lapid's new Yesh Atid party. Both are headed by strong-willed individuals who may be amenable to entrees from either Likud or Labour. Kadima, the once powerful center party, may or may not qualify for the Knesset.

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