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Polling Notes: No Threat to Netanyahu, No Hope in Egypt

by Shmuel Rosner

August 11, 2013 | 7:02 am

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and
Yair Lapid, head of the Yesh Atid party embrace
after the swearing-in ceremony of the 19th Knesset,
Jerusalem, Feb. 5. Photo by Reuters/Ronen Zvulun

1.

In our updated Israel Poll Trends tracker you can see that the decline in the popularity of Israel's Yesh Atid Party – not long ago the big surprise of the elections and a supposed alternative to Likud – continues. The party of Yair Lapid, according to the latest poll, gets as low as 13 mandates, and is trailing behind Labor and Habayit Hayehudi (not to mention Likud). And all this happened before Lapid called his critics, "schnauzers who were left out in the rain".

You can see why Lapid is frustrated. While he used to be Israel's beloved golden boy, he is now becoming a punching bag for pundits and other politicians who all have the numbers to rely on:

Seventy-eight percent of the population disapproves of Yair Lapid’s performance as finance minister… Asked to grade him in the task of selecting a new Bank of Israel governor, 53% said he performed badly… The poll may also dampen Lapid’s ambitions toward the premiership; 82% of respondents said he was not fit for the position, versus only 12% who did. Even among Yesh Atid voters, 54% said he was not keeping his promises, and 43% said they would not vote for the party which he heads again.

All this means that:

A. Yesh Atid can't leave the coalition anytime soon (not that it wanted to leave).

B. Lapid is not much of a threat to Netanyahu anymore.

C. In fact, there is no threat to Netanyahu as things stand now – no candidate has emerged in the last couple of months that can compete with him.

D. In fact, when we think about potential PM candidates it seems that things are looking exceedingly good for Netanyahu. Lapid is in trouble, Livni's party doesn't even cross the new electoral threshold, and possible candidate Gabi Ashkenazi, former IDF chief and a rumored potential Labor candidate, is under investigation. Bottom line: we are left with Olmert, if his trial ends positively.

2.

An article I wrote for Al-Monitor deals with the gap between Israeli-Arab public opinion and the opinions expressed by Israeli-Arab politicians:

[T]he July 2013 Peace Index of the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) shows surprising optimism among Arab Israelis in relation to the resumption of the talks with the Palestinians: 47% of the respondents told pollsters that an agreement was within reach; 58% of them — a rather staggering number — believe that the government of Israel is sincere in its desire to resume the talks. Yet there isn’t a single Arab Knesset member who would openly come out and say that he believes that the government of Israel is sincere in its desire to hold negotiations.

This isn’t the first time that polls point out the vast gap between what Israeli Arabs think and what their representatives in the Knesset are saying they think. So why do they elect those representatives? That’s a big question. Some clearly don’t vote for them, given that the voting percentage among Israeli Arabs is lower compared to the Jewish population. Some vote for other parties, and, yes — some of them do vote for the nonrepresentational leadership that represents them in the Knesset, and even tell pollsters that by and large they are pleased with them. And that’s a shame and also quite strange, because it doesn’t always add up with the other things they say.

3.

We understand that Americans aren't that interested in news from Egypt:

Public interest in news from Egypt has plummeted since the early weeks of the Arab Spring in February 2011. And the share of Americans saying what happens in Egypt is “very important” to U.S. interests has fallen by 10 points – from 46% to 36% – since then.

But whatever you think about the politics of Egypt and the country's chance at getting its act together, this is heartbreaking:

Egyptians gave their lives some of the worst ratings they ever have in the weeks leading up to former President Mohamed Morsi's removal from office. The 34% of Egyptians who rated their lives poorly enough to be considered suffering in June was up from 23% in January. Fewer than one in 10 rated their lives positively enough to be considered thriving.

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