Gaza operation churns on, but end of PM’s coalition closing in fast

By Yossi Verter, HAARETZ   (Written the morning of Aug 10)

[..]

No cause for optimism

No one in Netanyahu’s close circle believes this government will last more than another year, 18 months tops. It’s clear to all the politicos that the 2015 budget will be the last one that this, the third Netanyahu government, will pass. Many believe the budget will encounter major obstacles, and that a general election will be held in the first quarter of next year. Be that as it may, Netanyahu cannot be free of political calculations as he manages the war, together with Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz.

Netanyahu knows that the right wing, in both its ideological and militant branches, was disappointed in him even before the current period of restraint began. He went into Operation Protective Edge battered and bruised. His behavior during the presidential race damaged him badly – within Likud and on the right as a whole. At the same time, the center-left camp accuses him of not doing enough to preserve the peace process.

He will soon come under public pressure from Gal-On, Herzog and others to combine the end of the Gaza operation with a diplomatic initiative that will lead to the renewal of talks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. But that looks like an impossible mission. What price will be demanded of Netanyahu and what can he agree to pay? Freeing Palestinian prisoners is a nonstarter, after the kidnapping and murder of the three teens, and a construction freeze in the West Bank is also out of the question. His own party, together with Habayit Hayehudi and Yisrael Beiteinu, will torpedo anything of that nature.

Netanyahu, then, sees no cause for optimism down the line. He has no allies or ideological partners in the political realm. Once he had Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, but no more (see below). Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni are looking for a way to dump Netanyahu. They are also holding frequent, intensive talks. One option they are considering is having their parties run together in the next election.

Herzog, for his part, isn’t making concrete offers to Livni in the talks the two hold occasionally. Ironically, the only party leader Netanyahu can rely on for future support is Economy Minister Naftali Bennett. Despite all the bad blood between them and the feelings of revenge – and despite Sara, Sara, Sara – ultimately there is more that unites Netanyahu and Bennett than divides them.

The Kahlon effect

The decision to conduct the poll whose findings are being published here in part was made in the wake of Yisrael Beiteinu’s split with Likud, which was announced Monday morning. The next day, as the pollsters were at work, the Gaza operation began. So, the necessary adjustments in the questions were made and the poll was conducted between one air-raid siren and the next, amid pressure, tension and frayed nerves.

The findings are relevant only for the period in which the poll was conducted, from Monday evening to Tuesday evening, and they are testimony to the public’s mood at inconvenient, stressed moments. But they are not unimportant, and they will serve as a benchmark for future polls.

Here, for example, is the (partial) picture of the Knesset, if an election were to be held now: Likud 25 seats (after the Lieberman divorce), five more than it has now; independent Yisrael Beiteinu 14; Yesh Atid 13; Labor 15; Habayit Hayehudi 16; Meretz 10; Hatnuah 4. Obviously, the right wing soars when the cannons roar. Lieberman and Bennett would add seven seats between them to their current strength. It’s a true bonanza, and at the expense of Likud (which had 27 seats prior to the 2013 election).

What happens when the party being formed by former communications and social affairs minister Moshe Kahlon is factored in? A tornado happens. Kahlon gets 15 seats and devastates parties on both the right and left. Likud falls to 21 seats, Yisrael Beiteinu to 12, Yesh Atid plunges to 11, Labor to 13, Hatnuah disappears, Meretz gets 9, and only Bennett’s party emerges unscathed. All told, Kahlon and his currently nonexistent party would take 3 seats from new or undecided voters, 6 from the right wing and 6 from the left. Say hello to the new Yair Lapid, Israel’s next centrist social-justice party head.

Kahlon’s achievement is even greater given the current war situation. He wasn’t spotted on any news broadcast this week, and took part in no dreary panels of the usual aging security experts. He didn’t add his voice to the hollow clichés uttered by MKs and deputy ministers at the rate of a rocket launcher. In fact, Kahlon doesn’t exist in the public discourse. He’s doing his thing outside and below the public radar, hidden from the eye and far from the heart. But it turns out that his social vision and economic agenda – and all that “Kahlonism” stands for – are alive and kicking, engraved in the collective consciousness.

The prime minister fares poorly in the Haaretz poll, which was carried out by the Dialog Institute under the supervision of Prof. Camil Fuchs, of Tel Aviv University. Only 40 percent of those polled are satisfied with Netanyahu’s general performance; 50 percent are dissatisfied. That’s surprising, because at the outset of a consensus-backed, nationally supported operation like the one in Gaza, Netanyahu should be at the height of his popularity and enjoying a strong tailwind and broad support. The troubles usually come later, in the almost inevitable entanglements and snafus. If the public isn’t giving him appropriate credit as the leader and chief decision maker at this point, there’s room for concern on his part.

Even so, according to this poll, with or without Kahlon – and with Reuven Rivlin in the President’s Residence – it’s more than likely that Netanyahu will be the next prime minister. The reason is that the others – Bennett, Lieberman, Kahlon, Herzog, et al. – can’t find common ground or an agreed leader.

We also asked the public its opinion on Lieberman’s motives for ending the partnership with Likud just before the Gaza operation began. Not surprisingly, 45 percent attributed this to “party and personal reasons,” while 35 percent thought he acted out of “reasons of principle.” The party he heads is getting stronger, because the nation is shifting rightward, but he personally lost a lot of points for what was perceived as an appallingly cynical and self-interested move.

In the security cabinet meeting on Tuesday, he and Netanyahu went at it like two cackling hens sparring to be first in line for the manure heap. One participant in the meeting said he never saw them so mutually hostile as they were in that sensitive security meeting. They interrupted each other’s remarks, and each was flagrantly contemptuous of the other’s views. According to this source, Lieberman, who not so long ago was being touted – in this column, too – as the “responsible adult,” flanked young Bennett from the right with militant, aggressive ideas. So much for being the responsible one.

July 12, 2014 | 17 Comments »

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17 Comments / 17 Comments

  1. yamit82 Said:

    Ofer Winter’s

    Do you know from where Col. Winter’s family , in Europe, immigrated? Winter is a Family name. I may be come to Dimona to rescue Dagmar and bring her back to the safety of the border.
    Please take Darlin, I worry about you.

  2. MDA places 80 first aid kits in Dimona air raid shelters

    Yaron Kelner
    07.13.14, 10:02 / Israel News

    Magen David Adom will be placing 80 first aid kits throughout shelters in Dimona to help medical efforts in the area. The town stationed a doctor in the area on behalf of Magen David Adom and there will be free first aid training for residents.

    The above notice makes me feel really secure. 🙁

  3. the phoenix Said:

    “the nonreligious against a letter (written by ofer winter the commander of giv’ati)

    “History has chosen us to be the sharp edge of the bayonet of fighting the terrorist enemy ‘from Gaza’ which curses, defames and abuses the God of Israel’s battles.”

    “We will act together forcefully and with resolve, with initiative and with deceptive tricks and aim for contact with the enemy. We will do everything to live up to the mission and wipe out the enemy and remove the threat from the Nation of Israel,” Winter’s letter adds.

    In Hebrew, the phrase used for “Nation of Israel” refers specifically and only to Jews.

    “In the name of the IDF [Israeli army] fighters and in particular, the fighters and commanders from the Brigade, make the phrase ‘For the Lord your God is he that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you’ come true, and we shall answer: Amen,” he concludes.

    You didn’t supply a link for the comments.

    Here is a translation of the letter: ………………….

    Full translation of Ofer Winter’s letter:

    Commander’s Combat Material for “Solid Rock” Operation [a.k.a. “Protective Edge]

    Dear commanders and fighters,

    It has been our great privilege to command and serve in the Givati Brigade at this time. History has chosen us to be the sharp edge of the bayonet of fighting the terrorist enemy “from Gaza” which curses, defames and abuses the God of Israel’s battles. We have practiced and prepared for this time and we take upon ourselves the mission with full humility, and being willing to endanger ourselves and give our lives to protect our families, our nation and our homeland.

    We will act together forcefully and with resolve, with initiative, and with deceptive tricks and aim for contact with the enemy. We will do everything to live up to the mission and wipe out the enemy and remove the threat from the Nation of Israel. Nobody here returns without performing.

    We will act and do everything to return our lads safely. Using all means at our disposal and with all required force.

    I trust you, each and every one of you, to act in that spirit, in the spirit of Israeli fighters who are the pioneers leading the camp. The spirit of Givati. I turn my eyes to the sky and call with you “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord.” God, the Lord of Israel, make our path successful, as we are about to fight for Your People, Israel, against an enemy who defames your name. In the name of the IDF fighters and in particular, the fighters and commanders from the Brigade, make the phrase “For the Lord your God is he that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.” come true, and we shall answer: Amen.

    Together and only together we will win.

    Ofer Winter, Colonel
    Commander of the Givati Brigade

    Anyone who denies we are not fighting a religious wars is a fool.
    He quoted from (Psalm 83)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=24bOclbE_eg

  4. Should anyone with a minimum of clear vision trust anything oozing from, of all places… “ha’aretz”?
    I mean, honestly. Lets get real.
    The true eventual outcome of an election including the classic “israeli demoktatiahhhh” aggregates is only dependent upon how much cash foreign governments, local families and other sources will pump into the putrid cauldron. And how many “accidents” happen, false police files are fabricated and how many whores suddenly remember having suffered a targeted chump unwilling advances some 30 years ago.
    As far as we are concerned if the Jewish people want true representation they/us will have to grow some and clean the stable before “electing” again.

  5. LtCol Howard Said:

    Please tell me more: Yossi Verter, HAARET

    Yossi Verter is a senior political writer and commentator for Ha’aretz. Verter began his journalistic career in 1983 as court reporter for the daily Hadashot newspaper. He later covered the political and Knesset beats for the paper, before being sent to London and New York as Hadashot correspondent. He spent two years as a reporter on a Channel Two television investigative program before becoming the Haaretz political correspondent in 1996.

    I assume his agenda is left

  6. To Ted,Yamit, Bernard, etc Please tell me more: Yossi Verter, HAARETZ   : “…who not so long ago was being touted – in this column, too – as the “responsible adult”…”
    His agenda ??

  7. @ yamit82:

    Even so, according to this poll, with or without Kahlon – and with Reuven Rivlin in the President’s Residence – it’s more than likely that Netanyahu will be the next prime minister. The reason is that the others – Bennett, Lieberman, Kahlon, Herzog, et al. – can’t find common ground or an agreed leader.

    what do you think of this comment

  8. yamit82 Said:

    Haaretz Poll:

    Do you feel confident with this poll? the article was chock full of opinion.
    Why will the public vote kahlon when he is under the public radar as asserted in this article.
    Do you see likud gaining seats?
    i always question polls as sometimes they are released in order to achieve something in public opinion.

  9. @ yamit82:
    An article titled “the nonreligious against a letter (written by ofer winter the commander of giv’ati) that called ‘to fight for God’ has drawn (as of now) some
    405 comments.

    I wonder what is your take.

  10. Haaretz Poll: Likud 25, Bayit Yehudi 16, Labor 15, Yisrael Beitenu 14, Yesh Atid 13, Meretz 10

    July 11, 2014

    Dialogue conducted a poll for Haaretz of 520 people, with a 4.3% margin of error on July 9th 2014 under the supervision of pollster Kamil Fox. He also took out a scenario poll in the case that Kachalon starts a party.

    Poll 1: Knesset Parties as they are today

    Current Knesset seats in [brackets]

    25 [20] Likud

    16 [12] Bayit Yehudi

    15 [15] Labor

    14 [11] Yisrael Beitenu

    13 [19] Yesh Atid

    10 [06] Meretz

    07 [11] Shas

    07 [07] Yahadut Hatorah/UTJ

    05 [04] Ra’am-Ta’al

    04 [06] Movement

    04 [04] Hadash

    00 [03] Balad

    00 [02] Kadima

    69 [61] Right-Religious

    51 [59] Center-Left-Arab

    Analysis:
    Right-religious block of 69 seats is remarkable showing for Prime Minister Netanyahu & his right wing allies Foreign Minister Liberman and Economy Minister Bennett. The three right-wing parties gain 12 seats.

    Poll #2: Scenario with Kachalon Party


    Current Knesset seats in [brackets]

    21 [20] Likud

    16 [12] Bayit Yehudi

    15 [–] Kachalon Party

    13 [15] Labor

    12 [11] Yisrael Beitenu

    11 [19] Yesh Atid

    09 [06] Meretz

    07 [11] Shas

    07 [07] Yahadut Hatorah/UTJ

    05 [04] Ra’am-Ta’al

    04 [04] Hadash

    00 [06] Movement

    00 [03] Balad

    00 [02] Kadima

    78 [61] Right-Religious-Kachalon

    42 [59] Center-Left-Arab

    Analysis: In this scenario poll the Right-religious-Kachalon block grows from 69 seats to 78 seats. Kachalon becomes the third largest party taking for Likud & Yisrael Beitenu, but more importantly taking seats from Labor, Yesh Atid, Meretz & throwing Livni’s party under the new 3.25% threshold. This is an obvious nightmare scenario for the center-left bloc.

    Additional Questions:

    What motivated Foreign Minister Liberman to split away from the Likud?

    45% Personal political motives, 35% Principled motives, 20% Don’t know

    Are you pleased or not pleased with the following public figures?

    Defense Minister Yaalon: 57% Pleased, 26% Not pleased
    Prime Minister Netanyahu: 40% Pleased, 50% Not pleased
    Foreign Minister Liberman: 31% Pleased, 56% Not pleased
    Finance Minister Lapid: 26% Pleased, 61% Not pleased

    Analysis: Based on Haaretz’s last poll, Yaalon gained 3% in favorability and improved on his unfavorable numbers by 7%. Liberman’s favorability dropped 10% & his unfavorable numbers increased by 6%. Lapid & Netanyahu stayed pretty steady compared to the last poll. The other coalition factors Bennett & Livni were not polled.