Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made headlines on the eve of his country’s tightly contested elections with an apparent disavowal of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, vowing that if he is re-elected there will be no Palestinian state. While Netanyahu’s statement is a commentary on the current state of negotiations, it is also testament to the dire political straits he and his right-wing Likud party find themselves in as centrist parties gain momentum.
The last polls released before Tuesday's vote showed the center-left Zionist Union bloc with a clear lead over Likud, with surveys by two of Israel’s leading newspapers predicting that the party would secure afour- to five-seat advantage in the country’s 120-seat Knesset. The expected success of the centrist appeal is a reflection of the Israeli public’s growing emphasis on social and economic concerns over the security issues that the prime minister has made a cornerstone of his campaign, experts said.
While Netanyahu has primarily emphasized the threat of a deal with Iran over its nuclear program, Israeli voters have been far more concerned with housing prices and the cost of living. The two issues dominated a recent debate among party leaders, with Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog pledging to make 300,000 apartments available while subsidizing housing ownership.
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