An Israeli newspaper is predicting a deadheat between Likud and the governing Kadima Party in this week’s national election in Israel.
If true, that would erase a strong lead Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu was reported to have had for weeks leading up to the election.
In a news analysis dated Monday, Feb. 9, Haaretz correspondent Yossi Verter wrote, “ What seemed like certain victory until a week or two ago for him (Netanyahu) and the Likud suddenly became an open battle with Kadima. Weekend opinion polls gave the impression that things could reverse course to such an extent that some Kadima activists who had planned to announce that they were coming home to Likud suddenly reconsidered.”
The news comes as Ehud Olmert, the outgoing prime minister who is battling corruption allegations, formally endorsed Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, the new leader of Kadima. According to the Jerusalem Post, speculation for weeks suggested that Olmert may be working behind the scenes on behaf of Netanyahu. It also comes after media analysts said that the recent fighting in Gaza helped the hardliner Netanyhau more than it did Livni.
Polling stations opened Sunday in Israel for soldiers and border police two days before the elections, some 415 border police officers who will be working on Election Day voted. Also Sunday, conscripts and army reservists who would not be able to vote in their own communities on Election Day were eligible to vote at polling stations on bases throughout the country.
About 4,500 Israelis working in an official capacity abroad, including embassy and consulate employees, already have voted. There are no absentee ballots for regular Israelis living abroad, who must return to Israel in order to vote.