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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2705

Israeli poll 2015: Zionist Netanyahu way behind his opponents in opinion polls

By Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal

Israelis are going to decide the fate of hawkish Netanyahu’s political future in Israel on 17th March when the Jewish nation goes to poll. The Israeli opposition's call for change after nearly six years of rule by the divisive Netanyahu appears to have been heard by many voters. Several polls released on March 13 -- the last day opinion surveys can be released before the vote on 17th March -- showed the Zionist Union pulling further ahead of Likud after an intense campaign.

The Zionist Union was created in December by fusing Israel's once-dominant Labour party with the centrist HaTnuah led by Tzipi Livni, Israel's former chief peace negotiator with the Palestinians.

Netanyahu’s address in US Congress was a total failure that caused bad luck for the top US trained flawless English speaking leader. The message he tried to give to US leaders in the English language was not acceptable to most Americans. He has taken Americans for granted and though he could get them to work for the election in Israel.

Except those hardcore Jews and extremely pro-Israeli lobbies, not many Americans now view Israel, which exists on US money, weapons and veto, seriously.

A poll in the top-selling Yediot Aharonot newspaper showed the Zionist Union winning 26 of the 120 seats in the Israeli parliament, or Knesset, against 22 for Likud. Other polls for the Jerusalem Post and Maariv dailies, and for Israeli public radio, also showed a four-seat gap, with the Zionist Union taking 25 seats to 21 for Likud. The polls also showed the Joint List, a newly formed alliance of Israel's main Arab parties, in third, with 13 seats. The centrist Yesh Atid of former finance minister Yair Lapid and the far-right Jewish Home were both expected to win at least 11 seats.

Netanyahu, who gambled by calling the vote nearly two years early after his government coalition fell apart late last year, has warned Israel's security will be at risk if his rivals win. Final opinion polls on March 13 put Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's rightwing Likud party four seats behind its centre-left rival with four days to go before a general election.

Should the Zionist Union forms the next government, the parties have agreed on a two-year rotation for the premiership, with Herzog taking the first tenure.

Under Israel's proportional vote system, instead of electing individual members of the Knesset voters choose party lists, with seats distributed according to the percentage of the vote received.

Obviously the Friday's polls left Likud shaken, with spokeswoman Noga Katz reiterating Netanyahu's call on rightwingers to support his party over smaller parties on the right and far-right. "If the gap between Likud and Labour does not close, there's a real danger that Tzipi and Bougie (Herzog's nickname) will become prime minister by rotation, with the support of the Arab list," she said in a statement. "The electorate of the nationalist camp does not, this time, have the privilege to vote for small rightwing parties."

With the president plying the central role in government formation, even if it does win the most seats, the Zionist Union will not necessarily be tasked with forming the next government. With polls showing Netanyahu's natural allies on the right likely to win the most seats overall, he has a clear advantage in piecing together a coalition and may instead be tasked by President Reuven Rivlin with forming a government.

Israel provides for political manipulations. Analysis think a lot could still change before polling stations open. As has been proven in previous elections, four days is a long time, over the same period in the run-up to the January 2013 election Yesh Atid gained four to five seats over what polls had forecast. The way down is even quicker. A party with a negative momentum could find itself on Tuesday night with fewer seats than the last poll predicted.

Naftali Bennett, head of the ultra-nationalist Jewish Home, called for a united pre-election rally of the right to be held in Tel Aviv. A Likud spokesman said the event was not being organised by Netanyahu's party but it was likely that Likud supporters would attend.

Israel generally targets Palestine to woo the Jewish voters in Israel to vote for the ruing aprty.. As Israel prepared to go to the polls, Israeli troops opened fire with live bullets towards more than 100 stone-throwing protesters in the northern West Bank, wounding a teenager who was shot through the ankle, an AFP correspondent said. The clashes took place on the outskirts of Jazalun refugee camp near Ramallah, amid simmering tension in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Obviously, Palestinians are keen for a change from Netanyahu, whom they consider as Palestinian blood sucker, hoping for a more suitable partner for future peace talks.

However, any party or leader old or new is going to pursue same divisive and anti-Palestine polices and would kill the besieged Palestinians to prove a nonsensical point. But if a person with positive thinking becomes Israeli PM, perhaps things would change drastically in favor of Palestinian humanity.

- Asian Tribune -

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