Michael Koplow writes: As was widely expected, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced yesterday that Knesset elections are going to take place within three months. The ostensible reason that Netanyahu provided was deadlock over the budget, but this was an obvious move on Netanyahu’s part given the political situation in Israel. The J14 social protests this past summer were a shadow of their previous incarnation, the situation on the southern border with Egypt appears relatively quiet for now, and Iran has been put on hold. Netanyahu’s Likud party is on top of the polls and the parties that make up the rest of his right-wing coalition bloc are all poised to do reasonably well.
More importantly though, Netanyahu’s opponents don’t appear to present much of a threat at the moment. Kadima’s erstwhile leader Tzipi Livni, who led the party to the most seats in the 2009 election, is now without a political home and has been reduced to communicating to the public through her Facebook page, and current Kadima head Shaul Mofaz is busily running the party into the ground. Labor will almost certainly do better this time than it did in 2009, but the consensus is that Shelley Yachimovich is not quite ready for prime time and needs some more seasoning before presenting a real threat to Netanyahu. While there are some plausible but remote scenarios in which Netanyahu is cast out of the prime minister’s residence, the overwhelming likelihood is that three months from now Netanyahu will remain exactly where he is. [Continue reading…]