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Ear to the Ground

Netanyahu Has Staying Power Despite a Dip in the Polls

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Posted on Aug 26, 2014

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The number crunchers at the somewhat conservative Jerusalem Post have taken a look at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s polling and determined that he was at his most popular (82 percent approval) when he sent ground troops into Gaza. Israeli casualties appear to have kneecapped his popularity.

There’s more on the numbers here, but the nut is below:

In the first week of Operation Protective Edge at the beginning of July, 57% of Israelis were satisfied with Netanyahu, according to a Channel 2 poll taken by Shiluv Millward Brown Market Research. It rose to 82% on July 23, after ground forces entered the Gaza Strip.

Netanyahu came back down to earth Monday night when data showed that 50% of Israelis were dissatisfied with him and just 38% satisfied – a 17% drop since a poll broadcast Thursday night.

The most obvious explanation is that the polls have fluctuated along with the number of Jewish Israeli fatalities in Operation Protective Edge.

There’s something tasteless about talking horse race politics in the middle of a major humanitarian crisis, but bear with us. Netanyahu is at the head of a very conservative government and the chief prosecutor of a war against Hamas in Gaza. He has time and again resisted U.S. pressure to make the peace process more of a reality (by freezing settlement construction, for instance), and the Israeli public’s reaction to his maneuvering is extremely important to the situation on the ground.

According to the Post’s analysis, Israel tends to hold elections when leaders are at their most popular, so, the paper expects, Netanyahu is here to stay, to the chagrin, we expect, of Israeli peace activists.

—Posted by Peter Z. Scheer

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