Israel's former right-wing leader Benjamin Netanyahu has withdrawn his candidacy for the post of prime minister and for the leadership of his Likud party, reported AFP.
The agency said that current Likud party leader Ariel Sharon would be leading his party into a head-to-head contest between Prime Minister Ehud Barak in a special election to be held on February 6.
Haaretz newspaper said Netanyahu had made his candidacy contingent on the Knesset dissolving itself and moving to general elections, not just special elections for prime minister.
Netanyahu feared that had he won, he would have been unable to set up a stable coalition based on the present makeup of the Knesset, Haaretz said.
Netanyahu's announcement followed a vote early Tuesday by the Israeli parliament against early elections, said AFP.
The Knesset had also backed a bill to allow any private citizen to stand for prime minister.
But Netanyahu, the former Likud leader, had insisted he would not run for prime minister unless there were also early legislative polls, according to the agency.
Ghazi Saadi, a Jordanian expert on Israeli affairs, told Albawbaa.com that Netanyahu’s move meant he wanted to maintain credibility.
“Netanyahu does not expect the current Knesset to last long. He believes that there are inherent reasons that will lead to its dissolution within a year or more and it is then that he will make his comeback as a star.”
Saadi said it was premature to predict Barak’s success in the next elections,” his success is contingent on progress of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians and the conclusion of a deal.”
But Saadi, who heads the Jalil Studies Center, said he believed that reaching a peace deal hinges on Barak himself and in his ability to meet the requirements of peace.
He ruled out the possibility that the Palestinian authority might give up any of its cards in order to ensure Barak’s success in the forthcoming elections,” the Palestinians will not make any concessions as long as they don’t get anything significant in return.”
Saadi said the first round of the Israeli elections may not be conclusive if both former Israeli prime minister Shimon Peres and Sharon contest the election against Barak. He added that this might happen because the latter will not be able to win the 50% percent of votes needed to win the election,” and a second round of election would see Sharon running against Peres.”
Saadi noted that Peres, a former leader of the labor party, was ahead of Barak in opinion polls -- Albawaba.com
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