Israeli Ruling Parties Lose Support After Hamas Truce

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s party stands to lose seats in January’s election.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York, September 27
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York, September 27 (UNIC/John Gillespie)

The ceasefire agreement that was reached with Hamas this week has cost Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling party support in the polls although it is still on track to win January’s election.

After American and Egyptian mediation, the Palestinian militant organization Hamas and Israel agreed on Wednesday to cease hostilities on the Gaza border after a week of fighting. The truce isn’t popular in Israel. According to a survey published by the Maariv newspaper on Friday, just 31 percent of Israelis approve of the ceasefire.

The poll also showed that the new conservative party formed by Netanyahu’s Likud and foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman’s nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu would take 37 of the 120 seats in parliament that are contested on January 22. The two parties currently hold 42 seats.

Criticism of the ceasefire has boosted support for smaller right-wing and orthodox parties that are part of Netanyahu’s government, however, which should allow the prime minister to win a third term. The centrist Atzmaut splinter faction headed by former Labor leader and defense minister Ehud Barak wins four seats in Maariv‘ poll. Previous surveys predicted that it would take none.

The liberal Kadima party, by contrast, is teetering on the brink of elimination. It is down 26 seats in the survey and wins a mere two. Former foreign minister Tzipi Livni, who left Likud in 2005 to help found Kadima but was pushed out of the party in May of this year, is expected to announce that she will run at the helm of a new centrist party which could win eight seats in the next parliament.

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