Failed ‘Unity’ Talks Leave No Obvious Rival for Netanyahu’s Reelection

34 Parties to Run in January Vote, But Who Is the Opposition Leader?

A flurry of last-minute talks aimed at combining lists in the center-left have ended in failure, with all of the major Israeli parties standing pat and no obvious “opposition leader” to run against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s reelection.

The Likud Party cheered the lack of unity, saying that the “personal ego of the Left” will give them an “easy victory” in the January elections. It’s still a long road for the Likud-Beiteinu combined list to get anything close to a 60 seat majority.

Not with 34 distinct lists across the political spectrum running for the 120 available seats. Israel has traditionally had a myriad of “special interest” and “single issue” lists winning seats and playing kingmaker, so even the off-the-wall parties can’t be totally counted out.

Polls so far have shown Likud-Beiteinu losing a few seats compared to their results running as two separate lists. Labor is looking to recover from the Ehud Barak years to establish itself as a leftist party, and is widely projected to finish in second place. Beyond that, groups like Yesh Atid, Kadima, and Tzipi Livni’s new party, which keeps getting new names but seems to be settled on just calling itself the Tzipi Livni Party are trying to stake out positions in the center.

The combination of Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu shifts the list to the far-right, but several other even farther-right lists have been established to contest them on the hawkish side. With the Independence Party of Ehud Barak apparently settled on not even bothering to try to contest the vote (despite polls suggesting they could be meaningful as a center-right bloc if they managed to attract Dan Meridor or another ousted Likud “moderate”), there appears ot be a wide gap between the “Center-Left” and the “Far-Right” with no real parties for voters to choose from.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.