On the 24th day of Operation Protective Edge, we can stop for a minute and produce an interim score sheet. A broad national consensus for continuing the operation - present. International understanding- yes, until recently. Military success - as yet unproven. The public's mood - fickle, as is support for and trust in Prime Minister Netanyahu. At the beginning of the operation, the prime minister's caution and attempt to avoid the use of force won sympathy and admiration, but in the third week of fighting in the Gaza Strip, with the dozens of fatalities tainting the air and the ongoing race to the security rooms, Netanyahu's behavior is being perceived as hesitant and marking time.
The opposition he is encountering in the Likud is probably only an internal dialogue of marginal people in the party that does not affect broad public support and the spurt in the Likud's power. Since the operation began, the Likud has gained 11 Knesset seats in the polls, no less. A Rafi Smith survey commissioned by "Globes" shows that the public backs the prime minister, giving the Likud 31 Knesset seats and Minister of Foreign Affairs Avigdor Liberman's Israel Beytenu party 13 seats. What was the joint Likud-Israel Beytenu party before the operation has become stronger, and is now poised to win 43 Knesset seats. Perhaps Liberman should have waited before splitting the joint party.
On the other hand, Liberman is profiting in the polls from his demand to topple Hamas. He is demanding that any coalition agreement should include this clause. That is what the public likes about Liberman - his word is his bond. Some therefore believe that after the operation ends, he will try to demonstrate this by attacking Netanyahu for his restraint during the operation. He'll say that Netanyahu was dragged into the fighting. He'll call a press conference within two hours and take Israel into a short and quick election campaign. Liberman denies this scenario. While Netanyahu's support comes mostly from the center and the left, with 13 Knesset seats, Minister of the Economy Naftali Bennett could be a fairly good partner for Liberman. It is an obvious combination. Together, they could be the new Likud.
At the same time, the war did not give rise to any alternative leadership. There are internal struggles in the Likud, but Netanyahu still overshadows them all. At the cabinet meeting this morning, Netanyahu criticized ministers for their behavior while looking directly in the eyes of Minister of the Interior Gideon Sa'ar, who has been walking around with a knife between his teeth in recent weeks. Sa'ar's war effort was joined this week for a moment by Minister of Regional Development, Energy, and Water Silvan Shalom, who reminded everyone that he has not gone away. Danny Danon and Yariv Levin also deviate from diplomatic language on occasion, while frustration is rampant in the Likud: the Likud has its own prime minister, minister of defense, a minister of foreign affairs from Israel Beytenu, and the cabinet's decisions look like they were made by Shimon Peres. Meanwhile, they are waiting in the Likud to see how things will turn out. If there is any question about who won, it will be clear that Netanyahu lost. The test will be the first missile fired at Sderot after the ceasefire.
If an election were held today, for which party would you vote?
(Results are in terms of Knesset seats, July 2014 poll, followed by June 2014 poll, followed by seats won in the last election in parentheses).
Likud 31, 31 (Likud Beytenu) (31) (Likud Beytenu)
Yisrael Beytenu 13
Yesh Atid 11, 13 (19)
Labor 14, 17 (15)
Habayit Hayehudi 13, 13 (12)
Shas 8, 11 (11)
United Torah Judaism 7, 8 (7)
Hatenuah 0, 4 (6)
Meretz 7, 9 (6)
Kadima 0, 0 (2)
Moshe Kahlon 6
Hadash 4, 5 (4)
Ra'am-Ta'al 4, 4 (4)
National Democratic Assembly 3, 3 (3)
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on July 31, 2014
© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2014