Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a reinterment ceremony for Lieutenant-Colonel John Henry Patterson and his wife Frances in the agricultural cooperative of Avihayil north of Netanya December 4, 2014. REUTERS/Nir Elias
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The coming Israeli election amounts to a referendum on Benjamin Netanyahu – hard-headed defender of Israel to some, the man who buried dreams of peace to others.Early polls suggest Netanyahu, an enigmatic leader who has already served three terms as prime minister, is likely to be returned for a fourth March 17 . Part of the issue was Netanyahu's insistence on passing a law that would officially define Israel as a Jewish state, over the objections of the minority Arabs and their allies on the left.On the other side there is talk of Livni and Lapid joining forces with Labor Party head Yitzhak Herzog, who has dutifully led the opposition.At a news conference after he was fired, Lapid predicted that Netanyahu will not remain prime minister after the vote. WILL ISRAELI ARABS BRING OUT THE VOTE?Israeli Arabs, Palestinians who found themselves in what became Israel after the 1948-1949 war, account for about a fifth of the population of 8 million.Many Israeli Arabs are ambivalent about Israel and some are just despondent after decades of living in underfunded communities with limited opportunities.Israel's new President Reuven Rivlin, another Likud veteran who appears to have turned on Netanyahu, has reached out to this population as well.
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