Israeli Election Goes to the Wire

Netanyahu falls back ahead of vote on Tuesday
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 6, 2009 6:25 AM CST
An election billboard showing Israel's Likud Party leader Benjamin Netanyahu is reflected in a transit bus window in central Jerusalem, Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2009.   (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer)
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(Newser) – With four days to go before the Israeli election, Tzipi Livni has pulled within striking distance of Benjamin Netanyahu, whose hawkish Likud Party has led throughout the race. In the last polls before a media blackout, Likud is forecast to win 25-27 seats, while Livni's centrist Kadima would win 22-23. The polls also suggest a major advance for the ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu, which has relegated Ehud Barak's Labor Party to fourth place.

Both Likud and Kadima have lost support throughout the campaign, but Likud has lost more—thanks partially to vicious attacks on Netanyahu by Livni's party. But even if Livni comes out on top on Tuesday, she will struggle to form a coalition with Yisrael Beiteinu, a profoundly anti-Arab party whose leader has been accused of racism. Polls also suggest that as many as three in ten voters remain undecided.