By Isabel Kershner
The New York Times
The prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, announced Thursday that his conservative Likud Party would run on a joint ticket with the nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu Party in January elections. The surprise joining of forces immediately shook up Israel’s political map and was apparently intended to cement Mr. Netanyahu’s chances of leading the next government.
The move sharpened the contours of the left and right camps in Israeli politics after years during which the major-party leaders, including Mr. Netanyahu, had gravitated toward the political center. Political opponents from the center and left warned that the unification of Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu, led by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, reflected a creeping extremism that would not serve Israel.
By joining up, Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Lieberman clearly intended to bolster their tickets and guarantee their leadership of a strong governing coalition in the coming years.
“This joining of forces will give us the strength to defend Israel and the strength to make economic and social changes within the state,” said Mr. Netanyahu, standing alongside Mr. Lieberman at a televised news conference timed to be broadcast live on the evening news programs.
Citing the great challenges facing Israel from within and without, including the threat of a nuclear Iran, Mr. Netanyahu said, “Together, we will seek a mandate from the public to lead Israel powerfully in the coming years.”