It’s way too early to know what will happen on election day, March 17, but politicians are jockeying energetically in ways that are likely to have a critical impact, and may even confound pessimistic liberal observers. Kadima party leader Shaul Mofaz is said to be on the verge of joining Labor in one of its top five slots; and Tzipi Livni is choosing between offers from Yair Lapid to join his centrist Yesh Atid party, and from Isaac Herzog to join Labor. (See “Mofaz to join Labor Party, reports say,” Times of Israel.)
The Jerusalem Post presents a fascinating overview of the way things stand now, including poll data that sees Netanyahu possibly defeated in a Likud primary vote, and the possible independent impact of the former general and ex-Likud welfare & social services minister Moshe Kahlon. This article seems to predict that Livni will join up with Labor, which would raise Labor’s current polling strength from 14 to 20 seats.
Another Jerusalem Post article sees a rise in the Israeli-Arab vote, as the three predominantly Arab lists decide whether to run as one unified list or two. Their consolidation is prompted by the new higher threshold vote required for election to the Knesset from two to 3.25 percent.
In the meantime, looking at the dire need of Israel to confront its problems, rather than the horse race– with peace at the top of the list– radical peacenik Uri Avnery urges “a united election bloc of all centrist and leftist parties, leaving nobody out, if possible including the Arab parties.” (See “The Plebiscite.”) He cites the precedent of Ariel Sharon’s creation of Likud as a unified bloc of right-leaning parties, which succeeded in 1977 to elect Menachem Begin, after he was defeated in eight previous elections as head of the Revisionist Herut (Freedom) party.