As we go to press Israel's current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his party Likud, are neck-and-neck with the opposition in exit polls from Israel’s 17 March election.
The election was turned into a dramatic national referendum on the future of Israel when Netanyahu ruled out the establishment of a Palestinian state, saying: “I think that anyone who moves to establish a Palestinian state and evacuate territory gives territory away to radical Islamist attacks against Israel.” He also promised to build more settlements in occupied east Jerusalem.
The US will not be happy with Netanyahu's stance, but if he wins the election, the US, as in the last few years, is unlikely to serious challenge him.
An alternative coalition government would be built around the Zionist Union, formed two months ago from a merger between the Labor party and former peace negotiator Tzipi Livni's Hatnua party. Labor's Isaac Herzog has campaigned on social and economic issues, but the Zionist Union are far from being left.
Nonetheless the election has shifted political debate in Israel. On 7 March tens of thousands attended an anti-Netanyahu rally, under the banner “Israel wants a Change”. A speech by spokesperson for the movement, Meir Dagan, gives a flavour of the mood — of war weariness, general social disatisfaction and commitment to “two states”.
“For an entire summer Israel’s civilians huddled in air raid shelters under thousands of rockets, while the soldiers suffered heavy losses. And it ended with nil results — zero deterrence, zero political achievement.
“I do not want to get to a binational state. I do not want an Apartheid state. I do not want to rule over three million Arabs.
“I do not want us to remain hostages to fear, despair and stagnation. I think it is time to wake up.”