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Thursday, January 17, 2013

New poll shows Livni gaining at Likud's expense

I've warned you before to take Israeli polls with a grain of salt. Many Israelis don't like to talk to pollsters. I, for example, hang up the phone every time they call. I couldn't be bothered to spend the time talking to them. I have better things to do, like clean my toenails....
This is a country in which polling is not always accurate. Respondents often deceive the pollsters. Some respondents - like me - slam down the phone (otherwise you get called nearly every day because Israel is very politically active and there's a relatively small population). This is a country whose Dewey beats Truman moment happened in 1996 (when Netanyahu was 'good for the Jews' and defeated Shimon Peres six months after Yitzchak Rabin's assassination - a shocking result at the time) and not in 1948. Take the polls with a large grain of salt.
So don't go into a panic yet, but... a new poll by Channel 10 (which just might have it in for Netanyahu) shows Likud-Beiteinu (probably the biggest mistake Netanyahu has made the entire term in office other than the 'settlement freeze') dropping to 32 seats (compared to the current 42), and HaBdicha - the 'Tzipi Livni party' gaining two seats to nine.

What may be worse is that someone in the Likud is still enough of a thug to blame Jeffrey Goldberg for the result. And the evidence for that is?
The Likud accused Goldberg of conspiring with Livni to harm Netanyahu.
Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan, who heads the Likud’s response team, cited Goldberg’s August 2011 interview with Livni in which she praised Obama for pressuring Netanyahu and suggested that the US should keep up the heat.
Asked by Goldberg in the interview whether US pressure on Netanyahu had been constructive, Livni said: “When Obama pushed Bibi, Bibi made some steps forward.
The American pressure led those who don’t believe that time is of the essence to a better understanding that there is no status quo option.
For Israelis, when they wake up in the morning and ask themselves, what is the general situation today, the litmus test for them is the health of the relationship between Israel and the United States.”
In other words, none. Far from the loyal opposition, Livni is an egomaniacal serial underminer (we seem to specialize in those here in Israel).  But Goldberg? Goldberg is a reporter and he'll talk to anyone. If you think he conspired with Livni or any other politician in this country, go ahead and prove it, but don't make accusations like that without backing them up. Whatever happened in 2011 has no connection to today.

The good news is that (maybe) the Goldberg incident has angered Netanyahu enough that he won't make a serious offer to take Livni into his (likely) new government.
Likud sources said on Wednesday that it was very unlikely that Netanyahu would give Livni’s party a serious offer to join the coalition if he wins Tuesday’s election, due to the animosity between the two. They said he preferred a coalition with Yesh Atid and Kadima on the Left, and religious parties on the Right.
You've got to be kidding. Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz lasted about three weeks in Bibi's current government, while Yesh Atid will not go into a coalition with the religious parties on the Right. And did I mention that 'religious parties on the Right' does not include Naftali Bennett's Jewish Home?
The Likud sources said Netanyahu would likely only invite Bayit Yehudi to join the government when his coalition would already have 61 MKs, so he would not have to rely on the party remaining in the coalition following diplomatic concessions.
Really? Let's do the math. Likud-Beiteinu is 32. Kadima is 2 at best. Yesh Atid is 11. Shas is 11 and United Torah Judaism is 6. That's 62. You really think Bibi's going to make a government of 62 in which the he's got the Haredi parties and Yair Lapid fighting with each other all the time? My guess is (and I don't want to speculate about it too much before Tuesday night, because I don't really believe the polls) that coalition is far more likely to have Bennett than Yesh Atid or Kadima.  On the other hand, I've seen pundits I highly respect all over the map on who will be in the coalition....

But wait, I forgot about the 'Sara factor.'
Bayit Yehudi started a new campaign on Wednesday featuring a picture of Netanyahu and Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett with the slogan “Supporting Netanyahu, voting Bennett.” Bayit Yehudi officials said they hoped the ads would encourage Netanyahu to include Bayit Yehudi in the next coalition.
But a joke by Bennett on Channel 10 that was seen as insulting Netanyahu’s wife, Sara, might have made that possibility less likely. After Bennett, who sparred with Sara when he was her husband’s bureau chief, recalled that he and the prime minister had served in the same army unit, he was asked about Sara.
“Sara and I did a course on terror together,” Bennett said.
And you Americans thought Michelle Obama was a piece of work? But there's a difference here. While President Obama doesn't need his cabinet members to form a coalition, Prime Minister Netanyahu does. I have my doubts that Bayit Yehudi will be excluded because Bennett - who was Netanyahu's former bureau chief - didn't get along with the notoriously cantankerous Sara Netanyahu. Do you want to see my proof? Here's a picture of another former Netanyahu bureau chief:

Recognize him? He was foreign minister until a couple of weeks ago, and his party is running alongside the Likud in this election....

But I have to admit, I envy Goldberg. For a reporter to become the story always leads to good things in the future, so long as no charges against him are proven.

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At 9:12 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Carl - you woke up and your post is already out of date!

Maariv's new poll just out shows Likud getting 37 seats with Labor getting 15 and Bayit Yehudi getting 14.

Israel Today's new poll just out shows Likud getting 35 seats with Labor getting 16 and Bayit Yehudi getting 15.

The Likud in other words, will win comfortably while BY and Labor battle it out for second place.

My guess is whoever gets first shot to enter a coalition will be the party that finishes second next week.

Livni's Hatnuah won't be even a decisive factor.


At 10:23 AM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...

Norman F,

Note first sentence of post: "I've warned you before to take Israeli polls with a grain of salt."

I suspected what you report would happen.

At 1:52 PM, Blogger HaDaR said...

From personal experience (I was THE chief organizer of a party 17 years ago) you can have polls say whatever you wish. It depends on who conducts it, what questions, etc. Most do not use statistically valid samples (too few people questioned, not representative, not equally distributed, etc).
Israel's pollers are NOT SERIOUS or at least MUCH LESS SERIOUS THAN US POLLERS: nothing like Gallup, for instance. The political interests and connections are TOO HEAVY to make them even objective.
Sampling and statistics in Israel are NOT OBJECTIVE but HEAVILY INFLUENCED BY IDEOLOGICAL AND POLITICAL BELONGING. The Israeli statisticians are a clear example. The "statistics guru in Israel", for instance, Sergio Della Pergola, is heavily involved in extreme left wing politics (connected with Americans for Peace Now founder Chaim Seidler Feller, and with CFR people like Dennis Ross), and has come out with demographic terrorism statements that are FALSE as MANY have demonstrated, not last Ambassador Yoram Ettinger
(see: http://www.theettingerreport.com/)


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