The Knesset started its winter session this week. The session will focus on many controversial legislative issues including the National Referendum Bill, Ultra-Orthodox Draft Bill, Electoral Reform Bill and the Illegal Infiltrators Bill. The peace talks will most likely be discussed every week during the no-confidence votes on Mondays and as the main topic of the urgent motions on Wednesdays.

With Knesset returning to session this week after a three month break, this was a perfect excuse for Haaertz to order for this weekend the first national poll in over six weeks. Most polling companies have been focused for the last few months on the municipal elections that will take place on Tuesday. Most papers chose to focus on the municipal elections instead of the Knesset session with their polls as Yisrael Hayom did with their New Wave poll and Kol Ha’ir did with their Panels poll. Many polling companies such as Maagar Mochot and Smith are working for the national parties during the municipal elections and have little time to devote to newspapers or television stations during “crunch time”.

This will be an interesting, challenging and entertaining Knesset session. The parties going in might look different on the way out and there will be many storylines to follow. What will happen following Labor’s leadership election? Can Lapid prevent his party’s collapse? Will Yisrael Beitenu split from Likud? Can Meretz improve on their impressive recent rise in the polls? How will the Shas era post-Rav Ovadia Yosef look like and will Yishai split the party? Will UTJ remain united and will they take sides on Deri-Yishai rift? Will Livni’s party agree to vote for raising the threshold or vote in favor of a national referendum that might torpedo peace talks? Can Bennett keep Bayit Yehudi in the coalition throughout the peace talks? Will Hadash, Ra’am-Ta’al and Balad unite in order to survive planned electoral threshold increase? Will former Prime Minister Olmert officially return to Kadima during the winter or will we have to wait a little longer?

March 19th is the last day of the winter session and that could be the day where all of the controversial bills are passed into law as part of a joint coalition package. We should have answers to many of the above questions before the Knesset goes on Passover vacation/spring break.

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