Israel braced for nail-biter


With less than three weeks of campaigning left before the election and polls showing the two main parties neck-and-neck, both sides are still looking for a key issue that will shift large numbers of voters.

A series of revelations regarding the use of public funds by the Netanyahu family do not appear to have made much of a dent in Likud's prospects.

The centre-left parties now believe that a new state-comptroller report on years of failed housing policies could focus the blame for rising house prices on the PM.

Likud is pinning its hopes on Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to the US Congress next week, where he will warn of the dangers of an impending nuclear agreement with Iran.

Last week's comptroller report on the way taxpayers' money was allegedly misspent by the Netanyahu family was followed by news that the previous housekeeper at the prime minister's official residence was co-operating with police in what could evolve into a criminal investigation. New allegations also surfaced that the Netanyahus had tried to get the state to pay for the redecoration of their home in Caesarea.

Close call

Proportion still unsure which party they will vote for

Another comptroller report, published on Wednesday, blamed rising housing prices on government policies, and prompted Likud to rush out a new plan for building affordable homes.

Meanwhile, all eyes will next week be on Washington, where the biggest event of the campaign will take place - Mr Netanyahu's Congress speech.

Whatever the content of the speech, the narratives of each side is known.

Likud is portraying its leader as the only Israeli statesman with the backbone to stand up to international pressure and fight for Israel's interests. In preparation, the party released a video last weekend in which Mr Netanyahu is presented as the successor to Israel's first prime minister, David Ben Gurion, who in May 1948, defied the opinion of the US State Department and declared Israel's independence. The opposition is accusing Mr Netanyahu of sacrificing Israel's strategic relations with the US to his political interests.

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