Thursday, January 05, 2006

What's Next for Israeli Politics

Shmuel Rosner and Christopher Hitchens at Slate both predict that Arial Sharon's incapacitation will work to the benefit of the Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud Party in the upcoming Israeli elections. Slate also has a roundup of U.S. bloggers that are predicting Likud victory, the withering away of Sharon's new Kadima Party, and the end to Sharon's policy of strategic unilateral withdrawals from some of the occupied territories.

But in Israel, Rosner's paper Ha'aretz has published opinion polls that indicate that Sharon's new Kadima Party will likely do roughly as well in the elections without Sharon as they were expected to do with him. In other words, they'll get the most Knesset seats-- about 40 to 42 out of 120 with either Ehud Olmert or Shimon Peres as their leader. Moreover, Ha'aretz has also published a variety of assessments that show that if Kadima starts to decline, a variety of possibilities other than a Likud resurgence present themselves. Likud's prospects are limited by Netanyahu's ascendency and and the desire for many former Likud voters for a more moderate path. Labor could make gains, particularly if Shimon Peres and other defectors return. Another possibility is that if Kadima falters, Shinui could pick up support as a moderate alternative.

Citizen Cain's bold prediction-- a coalition that excludes Likud will win. Some combination of Kadima, Labor and smaller parties, who will continue the policy of selective unilateral disengagement from the Palestinians.