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Regardless of the precise results of today's elections, it appears that National Union chairman Avigdor Lieberman's decision to join forces with Tekuma and Moledet was a successful gamble.

The partners in National Union ostensibly make odd bedfellows - secular Russian immigrants from Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu faction, settlers from Tekuma and Moledet's Rabbi Benny Elon. After all, the predominantly secular immigrants are perceived as being hostile to religion and in competition with the settlers for state resources.

But drawn together by fervent nationalism and a penchant for militarism, National Union's supporters have forged a surprising amalgam of new immigrants and veteran Israelis from the political Right.

Lieberman, who harbors aspirations of national leadership, realized that he could not fully realize his ambitions as the leader of a narrow-based party of Russian-speaking immigrants.

He first approached the secular Tsomet party - founded by former chief of staff Rafael (Raful) Eitan - in an attempt to broaden Yisrael Beiteinu's Israeli roots. When this approach failed, he turned to Tekuma and Moledet.

"We represent three of the pillars of Zionism," Lieberman said at a recent meeting of Russian immigrants: "aliyah (immigration), settlement and security."

While helping to broaden his own base of support, Lieberman's partnership with Moledet and Tekuma also helped to promote a greater sense of "Israeliness" among his original Russian-speaking constituency.

Lieberman "marketed" his religious (as opposed to ultra-Orthodox) partners as ideological allies, whose children serve together with the children of Russian immigrants in elite units of the Israel Defense Forces. And, according to the election polls, the immigrants accepted this partnership that still allows them to support the leader of "their" movement.

According to a survey conducted on Sunday among Russian-speaking immigrants (by Dr. Alex Feldman of the Mutagim Institute), National Union was supported by 22.2 percent of this community (equivalent to nearly seven Knesset seats), while Likud was next with 20.5 percent (six seats) and Yisrael b'Aliyah followed with 15.6 percent (almost five seats).

The survey shows Shinui winning four seats from immigrant voters and Meretz and the Labor Party each winning a single Knesset seat from this pool of voters.