With new Kadima leader Tzipi Livni having failed to form a government, Israelis will now hold elections in several months (likely in mid-February). The polls will set up an epic confrontation between the Obama-like Livni, who wants to pursue a peace process with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas even though Hamas still controls Gaza, and a resurgent Benyamin Netenyahu, who wants to abandon the Bush administration-engineered Annapolis peace process that Livni supports. Of course, Iran looms large, and of significance from an American perspective is that Netanyahu is clearly more likely to take military action against Iran to prevent it from obtaining nuclear weapons. Economic issues will also be of concern.
Right now, polls are close. While Likud has led in many polls taken over the past year, in the latest polls Kadima leading by a slight plurality of seats, but the polls are close enough to be within the margin of error:
A poll by the Dahaf Research Institute showed Kadima winning 29 of the Knesset’s 120 seats and Likud taking 26.
A TNS Teleseker survey gives Kadima 31 seats to Likud’s 29.
The Dahaf poll of 500 people had a margin of error of 4.5 percent. The TNS survey of more than 900 people put the maximum margin of error at two parliamentary seats.
Either way, the polls suggest a significant shift to the right as far as the overall makeup of the legislative body. Right now, Kadima has 29 seats, Edud Barak’s Labor has 19, and Likud only has 12.
Polls predict Ehud Barak’s Labor dropping to 11 seats.
There are 120 seats in the Knesset and 61 are necessary to form a majority, so obviously, a lot will depend on the remaining parties.