by Jonathan Singer, Sun Jan 04, 2009 at 12:32:54 AM EST
If Labor can earn 15-16 mandates, it will be a power player, Barak would be a viable Defense Secretary candidate. In fact, if the power is in Barak's hands he might actually be more likely to join a Likud-led government than a Kadima-led one, not the least out of a desire to squeeze Kadima and return to the previous two-party system.
Netanyahu certainly wants, if not needs, Barak, or perhaps Livni, to govern. He has learned the lesson from his previous term as Prime Minister, namely that he cannot afford to govern with a right-only coalition. This is not only due to domestic politics, which requires buy in across the board, but also due to relations with America. Netanyahu's prickly relationship with the Clinton administration played no small part in the failure that was his time as Prime Minister, and America undoubtedly played a role in Netanyahu's loss at the hands of Barack in 1999.
And on the issues, there is not a great deal of difference between the three parties.
At this point, however, so much can happen based on the outcome of the conflict in Gaza.