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Short Cuts: Place your bets on Bibi, as Gaydamak steps in

 Benjamin Netanjahu (via Wiki)

If you had money to bet on the next Israeli prime minister, you may tend to place it on Benjamin „Bibi“ Netanjahu now. As the Russian-Israeli billionaire Arcadi Gaydamak launched his new party today, the much damaged Likud block could finally get the majority it needs in the next elections, though they are likely too be held only in 2010.
Mr Gaydamak’s Social Justice Party is set to place itself into the right spectrum and the founder himself has already told media his party would back Netanjahu if he wanted to become prime minister. For sure, Mr Netanjahu, who held office from 1996 to 1999 and is himself a part of the right wing of the Likud, would not hesitate.

But will Social Justice Party play a role in the elections? Probably so: Earning countless companies (and the „Moskowskije Nowosti”newspaper) as well as some sports teams, Mr Gaydamak would surely have the money to bring up a decent campaign; at the same time, he might be profiting from the exhaustion of the Israeli people about the current scandals of the country’s political class.

He recently already provoked Prime Minister Ehud Olmert by announcing to shield the inhabitants of Southern Israeli town of Sderot, which is under continuous missile attack (even though he failed to fulfill his promise). At the same time, his investment into Israeli businesses has skyrocketed the last few months, probably to present himself as a patriot as well as to gain economic influence in the country.

But Mr Gaydamak also has big plans for himself: He will run to become Jerusalem’s next mayor. This may be a harder task than playing Mr Netanjahu’s little helper: Even if he delivers hardline polemics and politics, he might have an opponent who can beat him at his own game. The current mayor Uri Lupoliansky is the first ultra-orthodox head Jerusalem ever had.

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