News Nosh 03.06.15

APN's special election polls review from Israel
Friday March 6, 2015

Quote of the day:
"This is a 'Just not Bibi' bloc and it has been expanding recently.”
--Maariv's Ben Caspit writes that the parties that could form a government led by Opposition leader Isaac Herzog are not necessarily left-wing.**

Breaking News:
Six or seven wounded by Palestinian vehicular attack on Border Police in JerusalemThe papers gave conflicting reports about the details. What is clear is that the assailant, Udaayi Salayma from E. Jerusalem, first drove his car into a small crowd of Border Police troops standing near the Border Police base. After that details are murky. Shots were fired at him as he drove and he hit a bicyclist and drove into the light rail station. He reportedly left the car after which he was shot and critically wounded after he left the car. Haaretz+ reported he wielded a knife when he got out of the car, Maariv reported he tried to stab people with a butcher’s knife. But Ynet reported that a cleaver was found on his body. Four to five policewomen were injured and one to three civilians were wounded, depending on which media report you read. Two of the injured were hospitalized in moderate condition, and the others with light injuries. (Haaretz+, MaarivYnet)

Election 2015 Polls:
Ten days till Israeli elections and despite the hope in Likud that Israeli Prime Minister’s speech to Congress would rake in many more seats for the party, the speech did not put Likud ahead of Zionist Camp. Polls taken since the speech show Zionist Camp leading or the two parties tying.

Channel 1 poll released Thursday and the Walla poll released today gave both the leading parties 24 mandates, while the Israel Hayom poll released today, the Reshet Bet radio station poll released Thursday and the Channel 10 poll released Wednesday gave them 23 each. The Channel 2 poll published Wednesday gave Likud an extra mandate compared to a previous poll, but Zionist Union was still ahead with one mandate at 24.
The Maariv poll published today gave 24 seats to the Zionist Camp and 22 to Likud. Like the Israel Hayom poll, it showed Yesh Atid strengthened, now tying with the Joint Arab List at 13 seats. Habayit Hayehdui rose one mandate to 12. Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu party and Shas aren’t moving, with 8 and 7, respectively. Meretz rose one to 6 and Lieberman has 5. And Netanyahu’s personal support has improved.
The Maariv poll also found that Netanyahu's speech increased the likelihood to vote Likud among 21% of respondents, and reduced the likelihood among 10%. It is important to remember, Maariv noted, that the vast majority of those who said that the likelihood they would vote for Likud grew, belong to the Likud or to the right-wing.

Netanyahu is still the favorite to be Prime Minister. In terms of actual votes, the Maariv poll found that a total of 46% wanted Netanyahu as Prime Minister and 44% don’t want him, with 10% undecided. Today’s Israel Hayom poll shows that 35% want Netanyahu and 18% want Herzog, with another 18% dividing between other leaders, no more than 5% each. In the Channel 2 poll, 47% said they would vote Netanyahu, 28% for Herzog and 25% remained undecided. The Channel 10 poll, however, gave Netanyahu 44% to Herzog's 35%, with 21% undecided.
Maariv also asked people whether they thought Netanyahu took advantage of the Congress speech to get more votes. The answer was split: 46% said yes and 46% said no. When those polled were asked whether they thought the speech harmed relations with the US, 51% said no and 37% said yes.
The Maariv poll noted that the Israeli public is becoming increasingly polarized. Some 54% of the public opposes a unity government between the Zionist Camp and the Likud after elections and only 28% support it. Interestingly, the Israel Hayom poll found that 44% of Israelis consider themselves right-wing, 24% ‘center,’ 15% as left-wing and 17% either don’t know or refuse to say.

**Aharon Lapidot writes in Israel Hayom that his paper’s poll results “clearly show the complicated division of powers in Israeli politics, at this moment: no less than five parties win a double-digit number of mandates, a reality that will make it very difficult for any potential prime minister to form (a government).” Maariv’s top political commentator Ben Caspit writes in today’s paper that “these elections are completely open. It is important to remember that if one of the smaller parties remains outside the Knesset (Meretz or Yachad, for example), it will dramatically affect the balance between the blocs. Already, according to the current poll, the Zionist Camp, Yesh Atid, the Arabs and Meretz bring together 56 seats. That is a short distance from forming an obstructive bloc of 61 seats in the Knesset. No, this is not a left-wing bloc, because Lapid does not see himself as left. This is a "Just not Bibi" bloc and it has been expanding recently.”
However, the bottom line remains the same as last week: it is much easier for Netanyahu to form a coalition than for Herzog.

Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.