The Current Political Picture In Israel


UPDATE 10 am Israel time Sunday:

At 6:30 this morning, Israeli motorists near Ma’ale Shomron in Samaria came under fire from Palestinian terrorists. Fortunately there were no physical injuries. Security forces search the area for several hours, but the terrorists escaped.

Sundown tonight marks the beginning of the seven day Sukkot holiday in Israel. Every house has its own gaily decorated Sukka or “booth”, a large square three sided enclosure, covered with palm branches. For those of you celebrating the holiday, Hag Sameach!

TODAY’S BLOG:

Occasionally, your humble servant likes to give you an update on the ever-changing political landscape here in Israel.  The next election is scheduled for October of 2013, but the Israeli media has gone “wild” excitedly predicting early elections in January or February of next year. The conventional punditry has it that whether PM Netanyahu calls for an early election depends on whether or not a budget for next year can be passed.

Actually, it has been a volatile last seven months which has seen Netanyahu and Likud reach a high water mark back in February–only to lose popularity precipitously in the face of the problems with the Tal Law (the law that gave IDF exemptions to some religious yeshiva students) back in May, June, and July.

But not as precipitously as Kadima which has seen its fortunes plummet as Livni bailed out and resigned, and Mofaz joined an ill-fated coalition with Likud only to jump ship after problems with the Tal Law continued.

In fact, it was the Tal Law that stole center stage in the streets of Tel Aviv from the “social justice” demonstrators in July as IDF reservists marched with their slogan of “IDF Suckers.”

And who benefited the most from both the reservists and the social justice demonstrators?

Shelly Yachimovich of Labor–who joined both groups and managed to appear as “the common woman” in doing so (unlike newcomer Yair Lapid and oldster Tzipi Livni who had their photo-ops in the front lines of marchers but seemed strangely detached from the demonstrator’s concerns).

Nevertheless, looking at the chart below, little has changed. If the election were held tomorrow, Netanyahu would easily remain the Prime Minister–probably even more easily than the most recent poll shows (it was a “Haaretz poll” taken before Bibi went to the U.N. this week–and Shas always underpolls).  His only conceivable challenger would be Yachimovich, and–assuming that Independence and Yesh Atid would join her–she would have to peel off Shas or Yisrael Beiteinu to become Prime Minister. That seems extremely unlikely.

Below you see a chart of the current composition of the Knesset, along with the results of four polls taken in the seven months* (please note that the numbers below may not line up straight depending on which browser you are using):

PARTY                                     KNESSET  FEB 23   MAY 2   JULY 31   SEPT 29

LIKUD/NETANYAHU                  27                39           31             25               28

ISR BEITENU/LIEBERMAN     15                13           13             15                14

SHAS                                                11                  9             8             11                 11

NATIONAL UNION                      7                10             6              7                   6

UNITED TORAH                           5                  5             6              6                   7

(TOTAL)                                           65               76           64            64                66

OPPOSITION PARTIES

KADIMA/MOFAZ                           28                  12       10            7                   8

LABOR/YACHIMOVICH                 8                  12        17           21               20

MERETZ                                              3                   4          4            4                  5

ARAB PARTIES                               11                10        11           11                11

(TOTAL)                                             50                38        42           42               44

—–

“IN BETWEEN PARTIES”

INDEPENDENCE/BARAK               5                   0         0            2                2

YESH ATID/LAPID                                                6        12          12               8

Below you see a chart taken from a Haaretz poll yesterday. Again, remember this is a poll commissioned by Israel’s “leftist” newspaper (I used their numbers for the last two polls above). It shows results before Netanyahu’s trip to New York.

Though at first glance the level of satisfaction with Netanyahu’s performance may seem low, when you consider that more people feel that Netanyahu is suited to be Prime Minister than Yachimovich, Lieberman, Mofaz, and Barak combined–well, I leave it for you to draw your own conclusions.

In sum, barring some unforeseen events (of the type that always happen in this neighborhood), your humble servant would be greatly surprised to see elections held before October of 2013. Netanyahu has nothing to gain.

*The polls used in the graph above were taken from a variety of conservative and liberal sources for balance. However, most polls have been consistent in their findings. 

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