With Israel’s political arena in turmoil, the Prime Minister is also suffering. For the first time since last fall, the Benjamin Netanyahu’s approval numbers are negative. For the first time since the release of soldier Gilad Shalit from captivity, more Israelis disprove of Netanyahu’s handling of his job. Rosner’s Domain exclusive Netanyahu Approval tracker, maintained and calculated by Prof. Camil Fuchs, puts Netanyahu’s approval number below the 40% mark. A steep decline from the 53% Netanyahu had back in March.
As this post is being written, news keeps pouring in, keep changing: Monday morning, six members of the Kadima party announced that they will be leaving the party and join PM Netanyahu’s coalition; still morning, there is a search for a seventh defector is robust – seven Knesset Members are needed for the party to be able to legally split; in the meantime, other members of Kadima also contemplate defection – to the left. They are not happy with the leadership of the recently installed Shaul Mofaz, and are awaiting former leader Tzipi Livni’s next political move; and more news, Monday afternoon: two of the six have changed their minds, so it is four; and even more news: now it isn’t the four wanting to leave, it’s the party wanting them thrown out.
Last week, Kadima quit the coalition because of differences over the Haredi draft. And for a minute it seemed as if Kadima was even gaining some votes because of this move. But no, Kadima is on the verge of collapsing. And Israelis are, yet again, are awed by the creativity of their politicians. Israel’s chaotic parliamentary system is stripped down and is standing naked before the public. The PM can no longer pretend to want an equal share of the burden; Kadima can no longer pretend to have an ideology that is shared by all its members; and MKs twist and turn and run scared to better position themselves for the next election; the cynicism, the greediness, the shoddy deals, the sneaky meetings – backroom politics – is all out there, exposed to the naked eye of the grumbling public. Here we go again, buying votes and selling ministries.
Netanyahu is a strong Prime Minister, with a relatively stable majority coalition. But this coalition seems to be nearing its end. Election talk is paramount, and Netanyahu is worried: While no candidate that can challenge him emerged in recent months, Netanyahu’s public image is suffering, and he is losing credibility. You can track his approval numbers and read more about it in our J Meter Netanyahu Approval tracker – just click here.