Already, Ms. Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak of the Labor Party are back on the campaign trail hailing the war's achievements. They're touting Israel's restored deterrence against militants and the international support expressed by US and European leaders.
Addressing Israeli college students in a Tel Aviv suburb Tuesday, Livni bragged that European leaders came to Jerusalem to work with Israeli leaders despite the international uproar over the Palestinian civilian toll during fighting. About 1,300 Palestinians were killed, many of them noncombatants and children, according to health officials.
"If Hamas fires a Qassam rocket at Israel, they will get hit again, just like they got hit now, and they know that," Livni said in an interview with Israel Radio on Monday.
Mr. Netanyahu, who had the awkward role of defending the government to the international press during the Gaza offensive, has resumed his criticism of this government's Gaza policy. Right-wing allies of Netanyahu have warned that the military operation has left Hamas in a position to threaten Israel in the future.
Just a few weeks ago, before the fighting, the campaign focused on good government, economics, and leadership.
"Today it's a different world. Security and leadership, mainly in times of crisis, have moved center stage," wrote Yossi Verter, a political commentator in the Haaretz newspaper. "Netanyahu is feeling good – Hamas was always his preferred playing field. In 2006 he was talking about 'Hamastan,' and nobody wanted to listen."
To be sure, the biggest single winner from the war has been Mr. Barak and his Labor Party, which seemed to be fading into irrelevancy with polls indicating a fourth or fifth place finish prior to the war. Labor's 50 percent jump in popularity puts it in third place and makes Barak a leading candidate to continue as defense minister in the next government, but he's still far behind in the race for prime minister.