Israel is heading towards its most predicable generation election in a generation, but one that promises to bring profound change. It's an odds-on certainty that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will return to power after the ballots are counted on January 22 at the head of a similar Right-wing coalition with a similar majority to the one he current holds. The outward appearance of the government will be almost the same, but behind the familiar cabinet line-up, the third term Mr Netanyahu is likely to be radically different from the Israeli leader known until now. The certain victory means an uncertain future for the Middle East. David Horovitz, editor of The Times of Israel, said: "The elections will almost certainly yield a leadership that firmly rejects Palestinian statehood and adamantly champions settlement expansion. "Not so much because the electorate is swigging heavily to the Right, but because the Right already swung to the far Right." Mr Netanyahu's new government is likely to be the most Right-wing,pro-=settler, Israeli administration to date. The shift is the result of the Rightward radicalization of Mr Netanyahu's Likud Party, the re-emergence of religious nationalist Zionism under a dynamic new leader, and the fragmentation of Israel's centrist and Left-wing opposition. Israeli settlements will greatly expand, increasing the Israeli population in the occupied West Banks. That will make it almost impossible for future Israeli government to up up the territory, even if it wants to.
Will and Ariel Sharon
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