Israeli Ruling Parties Lose Support After Hamas Truce

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

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel speaks with President Barack Obama of the United States in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC, March 5
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel speaks with President Barack Obama of the United States in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC, March 5 (White House/Pete Souza)

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

Following American and Egyptian mediation, the Palestinian militant group 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, just 31 percent of Israelis approve of it.

Movement on the right

The poll also shows 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. This should allow the prime minister to win a third term.

Disarray in the center

The centrist Atzmaut faction headed by former Labor leader and Defense Minister Ehud Barak wins four seats in the Maariv poll. Other survey predict it will win none.

The liberal Kadima, by contrast, is close to extinction. It is down 26 seats in the survey, winning a mere two.

Former foreign minister Tzipi Livni, who switched from Likud in 2005 to Kadima but was pushed out of the party in May, is expected to announce that she will run leading a new centrist party, which could win eight seats.

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