JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who appeared to be cruising to re-election a few weeks ago, suddenly appears vulnerable as the country prepares to go to the polls in January.
The political comeback of a popular former foreign minister on Tuesday, coupled with the ruling Likud Party's selection of an especially hard-line slate of candidates, has suddenly raised questions about Netanyahu's prospects. Eager to portray Netanyahu as an extremist, opposition parties see an opportunity to mount a formidable challenge to the Israeli leader.
Ousting Netanyahu remains a formidable task, but the return of Tzipi Livni, who served as Israel's foreign minister and chief peace negotiator from 2006 to 2009, injected a high-profile name into what had been a lackluster race. Well respected internationally, Livni immediately took aim at what she called a "leadership vacuum" and promised an aggressive push for peace with the Palestinians.
"I came to fight for peace," she said. "And I won't allow anyone to turn peace into a bad word."