Saturday October 10, 2015
Israel Hayom
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Mati Tuchfeld

Falling in line with Likud

The past several days have provided for some strange theater. Almost all party leaders, who should have been at each other's throats as they fight for every vote, have all but decided to sing kumbaya and dance together into the next government.

Habayit Hayehudi's Naftali Bennett, who has been on the offensive against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the past several months, shifted gears this week, launching a new ad featuring the two of them as two lovebirds (the Central Election Committee instructed Habayit Hayehudi to shelve this ad, saying it was misleading).

Yesh Atid's Yair Lapid, who set impossible conditions for his entry into a Netanyahu-led coalition, has adopted a more moderate posture as of late and has even been holding back-channel negotiations over possible collaboration with the prime minister.

Even Hatnuah leader Tzipi Livni, who could not bring herself to utter a single positive word about Netanyahu during the outgoing Knesset's term, has been subtly communicating her desire to be seated at the warm cabinet table rather than occupy the freezing opposition benches. Shas' Aryeh Deri is particularly eager to enter the government. He has practically begged Netanyahu to hold coalition talks immediately, without delay, even before the votes are cast.

This type of behavior results from the across-the-board consensus that Netanyahu will head the next government.

Bennett could be cast as a flip-flopper over his recent statement in favor of removing illegal outposts from private Palestinian property; only a few months ago he lambasted Netanyahu for carrying out the very same policy. But this about-face may be an attempt to fall in line with the ruling party.

The same holds true when it comes to Lapid's recently toned down rhetoric. His harsh criticism of Netanyahu from the past several months has been discarded in favor of friendly swipes. That's his way of siphoning votes from the Left, while his associate Uri Shani sends out feelers to the Likud.

Almost all major parties are falling in line with the Likud. Labor's campaign, on the other hand, has so far failed to take off and the number of undecided voters is growing by the day. Such a political climate may end up helping the fringe parties.

On one side of the political spectrum there is Meretz, which the polls predict will win as many as 6 seats (it gets 5 in the most recent Israel Hayom poll); on the other side of the divide lies Strong Israel. The Israel Hayom poll showed it would not garner enough support to make it to the Knesset, but in other polls it is projected to win 3 seats.

Israel now enters the final stretch of the campaign. From this point forward it is illegal to publish polls until after the election.

In four days, we will find out whether the pollsters are any good at what they do.

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