Netanyahu maintains popularity

The latest Smith-"Globes" poll finds that the fading peace process has hit Tzipi Livni hard.

Just over a year since the elections, Hatnua's campaign managers can pat themselves on the backs. They made Tzipi Livni synonymous with negotiations with the Palestinians, and in the absence of talks, she is wiped off the political map. The Rafi Smith Institute survey for "Globes", conducted after the collapse of the negotiations, found that Livni is the main casualty of the peace process's failure. Were elections held now, Hatnua would not pass the electoral threshold to gain seats in the Knesset.

Livni's pictures with US Secretary of State John Kerry and Palestinian Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat have cost her dear, and in the absence of a victory, the public considers her irrelevant. The peace process was her lifeline and political raison d'etre.

The poll found that Hatnua's disappointed voters have switched to Meretz, which, under chairwoman MK Zahava Gal-On, has jumped to ten Knesset seats. Other Hatnua voters give their support to the Arab parties, and to the Labor Party, which has gained two Knesset seats as voters return home.

Habayit Hayehudi chairman MK Naftali Bennett gains nothing from the collapse of the peace talks. The public may not regret that the talks have collapsed, but it wants no drama made from this. The man whom the public perceives as statesmanlike and prudent is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is keeping his standing as a responsible leader who did not use the Hamas government to make a quick gain. Maybe that is why he only gave victory speeches to the foreign media.

While the collapse of the peace talks has killed Livni, it has helped Netanyahu. The poll found that 32% of the public consider him the best person to head the government. Labor Party chairman Isaac Herzog has the support of 13% of the public, just over a third of Netanyahu's support.

It's Netanyahu versus the world, but a deeper examination of the poll numbers reveals a more complicated situation. In the haredi (ultra-orthodox) community, Herzog beats Netanyahu 22% to 18%, reflecting the collapse of Netanyahu's hegemony among the haredim, after he supported criminal sanctions for the haredi draft-dodgers, motivating the haredim to seek his replacement.

In the latest poll, the Likud-Beitenu would win 35 Knesset seats, unchanged from the previous poll at the end of March, and compared with 31 seats in the January 2013 elections. Yesh Atid has lost another seat to 14 Knesset seats from 15 (19 seats in the elections) and Habayit Hayehudi also lost a seat to 12 seats from 13 (12 seats in the elections). Hatnua would win no seats, down from three Knesset seats in the previous poll, and six seats in the elections; Labor gained two of these sets, to 19 seats from 17 seats (and 15 seats in the elections), and Meretz gained one seat to 10 (six seats in the elections). Shas is unchanged at ten seats (one less than in the elections) and United Torah Judaism is up one seat to eight seats from the previous poll. The Arab party Raam-Taal is up one seat from the previous poll to four seats, the same number as the other two Arab parties.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on May 1, 2014

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2014

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