A right turn for Israel's Likud Party

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A right turn for Israel's Likud Party

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Members of Israel’s Likud Party have voted in favour of a controversial merger.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week announced plans to join forces with Avigdor Lieberman’s ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu.

Netanyahu sought to calm fears of loss of independence. “Likud will remain independent,” he told party members at a congress in Tel Aviv, “aimed at keeping Israel secure, in guarding the state of Israel and in maintaining the Israeli heritage.”

It is an “important and historic decision” according to Lieberman, who is Israeli Foreign minister.

Many say the subtext behind this merger is the upcoming election in January.

“Now, if there is no answer from the centre-left then probably we have seen the result of these elections. If the response is one of unifying between a few parties from the centre-left, then it is an open game.” said Ayala Hason, a political correspondent.

Three surveys have shown Netanyahu’s new bloc winning 35 to 43 seats in the 120-member parliament, well ahead of 20 to 23 for centre-left Labour.