With the Israeli war in the Gaza Strip seemingly over (or at the very least on hold) its political parties are back in campaign mode, gearing up for February 10th’s election and hoping to cash in on their role (or public position on) the war.
The current polls show that since the war, a virtual dead heat between the ruling Kadima Party and the opposition Likud Party has widened to a convincing lead for the latter. Led by the hawkish Benjamin Netanyahu the Likud Party, which backed the war but opposed the ceasefire ending it, is looking to gain between 29 and 31 seats. The Kadima Party is looking at between 23 and 26 seats.
Perhaps the biggest winner however is the Labor Party of Defense Ministry Ehud Barak. Though still a distant third, Barak’s role in the war has brought the party back from the brink of obscurity, doubling its number from pre-war polls to 14 or 15 seats. The Yisrael Beiteinu Party of Avigdor Lieberman, who condemned not just the current ceasefire but the notion of ceasefires in general, looks set to gain roughly 14 as well.
The biggest wild card is the Arab vote, which makes up about 20% of the Israeli population, but has traditionally had minimal representation in the Knesset. The government decided to ban both Arab parties for this election, leaving open the 7 seats they had between them. The question is, will the Arab vote break in favor of one of the less hawkish but not-yet-banned political parties, or indeed will the disillusioned Arab voters opt to stay home.