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February 07, 2003

In Labor’s loss, some analysts
see signs of historic power shift

This article suggests that the recent election has changed Israeli politics for some time to come
JERUSALEM, Feb. 4 (JTA) — “Historic” may be a term that is used too often, but respected Israeli political analysts believe the Labor Party’s electoral debacle last month was a watershed in the balance of power between left and right in Israel.
Labor Party Chairman Amram Mitzna believes the decision to join Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s previous national unity government was one of the main reasons for the crushing defeat Labor suffered at the polls on Jan. 28.

Mitzna hopes that leading Labor into opposition will allow him to rebuild the party and quickly turn it into a credible government alternative.

“Our stay in opposition will be short,” he promised party faithful in his concession speech.

But experts aren’t so sure. Ephraim Ya’ar, head of Tel Aviv University’s Steinmetz Center for Peace Research, argues that the decline in support for the Labor Party and the left in general stems from deep and possibly irreversible changes in Israeli voting patterns. [more]