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Left, Right & Center: Parties Across Israel’s Political Spectrum Consider Mergers

The Israeli political arena is heating up in advance of the upcoming April elections, with reports claiming that parties associated with the Left, Right and Center are considering mergers to enhance their chances of winning the vote. On one end of the spectrum, left-wing Meretz leader Tamar Zandberg called on her Labor counterpart Avi Gabbay to join forces with her in order to form a movement that is “clear and confident in itself” and can provide “an alternative to the extreme” government of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. With regards to the ruling Likud, rumors abound that the premier is weighing the formation of alliances with a number of smaller parties, including those of former defense minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beyteinu) and the newly-formed New Right headed by Education Minister Naftali Bennett. Netanyahu is exploring the possibility after a poll showed that a merger between the centrist Israel Resilience recently created by ex-military chief of staff Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party could garner up to 35 mandates in the next vote, or about five more than Likud on its own. Such an eventuality would likely give Gantz the first opportunity to form the next coalition, although most forecasts predict that the Right still stands a better chance of cobbling together the 61-seat majority (in the 120-member parliament) needed to establish a government. Either way, the political jockeying is expected to intensify in the coming weeks with a surprise or two likely in store.

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