Friday, January 20, 2006

New Israeli Poll Results

The latest round of weekly polls have been issued by Israeli pollsters, and they indicate a post-primary bounce for the Labor list. The three major polls put Kadima at between 37-43 mandates, Labor between 18-21 mandates, and Likud between 12-16 mandates. But the new polls also reveal that 1/3 of likely voters have not made up their minds yet. It will be this sizable “undecided” bloc that will determine the outcome of the upcoming Israeli election.

The polls also confirm the demise of Shinui. One happy note: the Yediot Ahronot poll indicates that my personal favorite of the small parties, Aley Yaroq (“Green Leaves”; essentially a single-issue party devoted to legalizing marijuana), which almost received a mandate in the last elections, is currently tracking at 2 mandates.

Today’s terrorist blast in the old central bus station area of Tel Aviv is Ehud Olmert’s first major test as Acting PM. While serious casualties were few (it appears that the Islamic Jihad suicide bomber either detonated his charge prematurely, or else the force of the blast was luckily directed away from customers in the shwarma shop), the specter of an election cycle peppered with terrorism is exactly the scenario which catapulted Benjamin Netanyahu to victory in 1996. To stave off a challenge from the right, Olmert will have to respond severely to this incident. Whatever latitude Ariel Sharon might have had in such situations (with his reputation for being a security hawk), Olmert has no similar room for restraint, lest he be labeled “soft on security.” Expect therefore a strong response (i.e., a “targeted killing” operation) from the IDF.

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