So Tzipi Livni is back, as promised. She gave a good speech today, but has no list of candidates yet, and no real prospect of becoming prime minister. To see why, all you have to do is go back to our Israel Poll Trends that we updated yesterday. Prof Camil Fuchs explains that so far, Livni is simply stealing votes from other parties in the same political bloc – the center-left. She'll have to be able to steal a lot from the other bloc to make her presence of any significance.
The Likud Party has elected its candidates for the next Knesset, and as usual the list was greeted with definitions such as "radical", "extreme" and the like. Fact: The Likud is a right wing party – it's time people got used to it. Fact: Israeli voters – unlike their representatives in most media outlets – tend to be quite fond of right-wing political parties. Fact: Every election cycle a number of familiar faces are forced out to be replaced by newcomers, and every time the knee-jerk response is something in the mode of "how can this novice replace that veteran?" Well, in many cases they can. Give them a term or two and they will also become veterans. Fact: Benny Begin and Dan Meridor will be missed, but their absence from the list is not as significant as political rivals of the party would like you to believe. When Begin was elected five years ago on the Likud list, the Kadima Party – back then the main party of the other "bloc" – greeted him by saying that Begin was proof of the radicalization of the Likud. Today, Kadima is arguing that the elimination of Begin is proof of such radicalization.
Speaking of the strange cycles of political careers, I have a short IHT-NYT article today about Labor's Amir Peretz:
“What happened to me this week is amazing,” he said. Indeed, it is. After being derided for six long years for being a misfit and an incompetent defense minister, Peretz is now the man of the hour. Thousands of Israelis have joined his Facebook page, apologizing for mocking him in the past and thanking him for fighting for the development of the Iron Dome, Israel’s anti-missile system, which was instrumental in protecting the country during its recent bout of fighting against Hamas in Gaza.
Read it all here. If Peretz made it back to being popular, should we now wait patiently for Ehud Barak, Dan Meridor and the other retirees to come back? (In Israel, the answer in many cases is yes, see Ariel Sharon for proof).
This week is not yet over: the Labor Party – probably the leading party of the center-left this round – will be electing its representatives Thursday. The question for Friday will be then: Did it pick a "radical" and "extreme" list of left-wingers? Party leader Yacimovich is working hard to prevent such an outcome, but it's not clear if she'll be able to get what she wants (among other things, not to have the head of Peace Now on the list).