Countdown to March 28

The lesson of 1996 is worth heeding: There are no foregone conclusions in Israeli politics.

man voting 298 AJ (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
man voting 298 AJ
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Three months before the 1996 elections, everybody knew that Labor's Shimon Peres was going to be Israel's next prime minister. He'd inherited the job following the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and he was scoring almost twice as high in the opinion polls as his Likud rival Binyamin Netanyahu. Everybody, it turned out, was wrong. A series of suicide bombings in late February and early March, in which 60 Israelis were killed, re-ignited the skepticism over the peace partnership with Yasser Arafat that many Israeli voters had put aside amid the shock and horror of the Rabin killing. The poll numbers started to change, and Netanyahu ultimately prevailed on election day, triumphing over Peres by 29,457 votes as the directly elected prime minister. A decade later, the lesson of 1996 is worth heeding: There are no foregone conclusions in Israeli politics. That's where The Jerusalem Post's election coverage comes in. Our job is to keep you up-to-date with a campaign that is already grappling with the aftershocks of Ariel Sharon's hospitalization and the landslide victory of Hamas in the elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council. There were those, just a few weeks ago, who considered Sharon's third successive election victory to be a foregone conclusion. And after that prediction was undone by the prime minister's failing health, there were those who believed Ehud Olmert only had to hold the new Kadima grouping together to be assured of succeeding his incapacitated ally. Then came the Hamas success, and its potential to change our daily reality and, by extension, the voting preferences of what is always a volatile Israeli electorate. Again, there are no foregone conclusions. has long been the principal source of news, features and analysis from Israel for millions of people around the world, but traffic on the site has been growing dramatically over the past few months, as more and more of you have come to rely on our reporting and our opinion pieces. We'll be covering every aspect of the final weeks of the campaign, determinedly giving you the best sense of the key issues, the central players, and how the Israeli public is responding to them. It's going to be a complex and dramatic few weeks. And no foregone conclusions.