Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced yesterday that the country will go to the polls on 22 January.
Netanyahu had already announced his intention to call an election earlier this week, but had not specified a date for the vote until yesterday. However, confirmation that elections will take place on Netanyahu’s chosen date of 22 January will not happen until Monday, when the bill to dissolve the Knesset is expected to be approved.
The Prime Minister yesterday began his campaign trail with a visit to the barrier fence being constructed along Israel’s southern border with Egypt. The electronically monitored high steel fence has cost around £250 million to build, as terrorist infiltrations from Egypt’s Sinai region have become an increasing concern for Israeli officials. Netanyahu declared during his visit yesterday “We are determinedly protecting our borders.”
Meanwhile, the Jerusalem Post this morning published a poll that indicates that a grand centre-left party would defeat Netanyahu’s Likud Party at the upcoming elections. The poll predicted that a party led by Ehud Olmert and including Tzipi Livni, current Kadima chairman Shaul Mofaz and Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid would win 31 seats, in comparison to Likud’s 27 mandates. A separate question found that such a centre-left party would be further strengthened by the inclusion of former IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi.
A Kadima faction head Dalia Itzik, considered an Olmert ally told the Jerusalem Post, “I believe the public realizes it needs a manager to run the country and that Olmert has proved he can help them sleep at night.” Itzik also urged Yair Lapid to join a potential party led by Olmert, commenting, “Lapid is intelligent and I think he knows what he has to do.”