By Noah Rayman
December 10, 2014

Israel’s former justice minister is expected to join her centrist party with the country’s center-left opposition, in a move that could significantly raise the stakes in the upcoming March election.

Tzipi Livni, who heads the centrist Hatnuah party, was expected to announce a unity deal with the Labor Party in a press conference Wednesday, Reuters reports.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fired Livni from his cabinet last week amid growing rifts in his coalition and called for early general elections in a bid to renew his mandate in office. Polls have found his center-right Likud party likely to come away with the most votes in the general election set for March 17.

But an alliance between Livni’s Hatnuah party and the larger Labor Party, headed by opposition leader Isaac Herzog, could reshape the electoral outlook. Recent polls suggest that the centrist alliance could take more parliamentary seats than Likud.

Still, Netanyahu could remain prime minister by forming a coalition with right-leaning parties in parliament. His party was expected to decide Wednesday whether to approve Netanyahu’s proposal to move primary elections to Dec. 31 from Jan.6, a move that has drawn criticism from some party members who say it puts other candidates for party leadership — such as former minister Gideon Sa’ar—at a disadvantage.

[Reuters]

Write to Noah Rayman at noah.rayman@time.com.

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