National race gets fresh faces
A raft of political newcomers and veterans have already entered the fray of Israel's election season.
This week's most prominent debut was of Benny Begin, the son of the late Prime Minister Menachem Begin, who will return to the Likud almost a decade after leaving in protest at Binyamin Netanyahu's acceptance of the Oslo Accords. Another recruit to Likud was Brigadier-General (Res) Miri Regev, the former IDF spokeswoman.
Mr Netanyahu is looking to add fresh faces; retired generals Uzi Dayan and Yossi Peled have already joined, but his preferred candidate is the former IDF Chief of Staff, Moshe Ya'alon, for now resisting entreaties to enter politics. Mr Netanyahu has also offered a place to Bank Leumi CEO Galya Maor.
Another former IDF spokesman, Nachman Shai, announced this week his intentions to become a Kadima MK. Jewish Agency Chairman Ze'ev Bielski has hinted that he will also seek a spot on the Kadima list. President of aliyah body Nefesh b'Nefesh, Danny Ayalon, left the organisation to join Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beitenu.
In another development, the National Religious Party and National Union, which ran together in the last elections, merged into one party, aiming itself at religious and traditional right-wing voters. One of the National Union's former leaders, Effie Eitam, is planning to join the Likud.