New polls indicate that the surge enjoyed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in polls over the past two weeks may be ending. A survey of likely voters by the Times of Israel showed Netanyahu’s opposition, the Zionist Union, headed by opposition leader Isaac Herzog, now has a small but significant lead. In addition, among the roughly 1 in 4 voters still undecided before the Mar. 17 elections, more are leaning towards the opposition than Netanyahu’s Likud.
In addition, a separate poll shows that plurality of Israelis (47% to 34%) now feel Netanyahu should cancel his speech to Congress next month, which has irked the Obama administration. Israel’s ceremonial president, Reuven Rivlin, has criticized the speech, and the relentless effort by Netanyahu’s domestic opponents, as well as by liberal Jewish groups in the U.S., seems to have shifted Israeli opinion on the matter, though few say it will affect their votes in March.
Even though he faces a major political fight, Netanyahu is still likely to head the government that emerges from the March elections, given that the coalition of right-wing parties is likely to be far larger than the coalition of left-wing parties. Israelis overwhelmingly prefer Netanyahu to rival candidates. However, they do not vote directly for prime minister. Socioeconomic issues are also playing a role in the election, in which Israel’s restive left is focused on economic inequality.
Senior Editor-at-Large Joel B. Pollak edits Breitbart California and is the author of the new ebook, Wacko Birds: The Fall (and Rise) of the Tea Party, available for Amazon Kindle.
Follow Joel on Twitter: @joelpollak