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“This change finds its expression in politics too,” he said as the Muslim call to prayer carried over the valley from a nearby mosque.
Few Israelis doubt that Netanyahu will win the Jan. 22 election. Polls show Likud, merged with former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu, is set to be the biggest party with about 34 of parliament’s 120 seats.
That should be enough for Netanyahu to put together a right-wing coalition bloc to govern the country.
He has already announced settlement expansion plans that include, for the first time, construction in the E1 area near Jerusalem that could split the West Bank and further dim prospects for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“The people of Israel are marching with a clear, definite majority toward a wide land, a right-wing state with a Jewish, national, character and we believe that this is the beginning of the complete redemption,” Cohen said. “This gives us resolve in facing our enemies.”
Just two months ago, pro-settler hardliners swept the primaries in an internal Likud vote that tossed out some of Netanyahu’s closest allies, seen by some party members as lagging in their support of settlements.
One Likud candidate likely to win a Knesset seat is Moshe Feiglin, a far-right settler who has twice challenged Netanyahu for leadership of the party and is now number 23 on its list of parliamentary candidates.
Speaking at a conference in Jerusalem this month, Feiglin advocated Israeli annexation of the West Bank and provision of financial inducements to encourage Palestinians to leave.
“Every Arab family in Judea and Samaria can be given an incentive of half a million dollars to encourage their emigration to a place where they will find a better future,” Feiglin said, adding that it was the only “real solution”.
The conference was organised by settler leaders and attended by hundreds. Three other Likud lawmakers, including one Likud minister, called there for application of Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank, home to 2.5 million Palestinians who exercise limited self-rule in some of the territory.