Friday, May 15, 2009

Israelis Unhappy With Netanyahu

Haaretz published a public opinion poll today with some interesting results (in Hebrew here, and in English here). A majority of Israelis (52%) are not satisfied with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's performance, while just 28% are satisfied. Ha'aretz notes that these are worse approval ratings than Ehud Olmert had after the botched Second Lebanon War. When asked whether Netanyahu is better than Olmert or not, a plurality of 31% said Netanyahu is worse, 28% said they are both the same, and 27% said Netanyahu is better. Considering how hated Olmert was, this is really striking.

I'm not sure how I'd answer that question. On the one hand, Netanyahu is extremely right wing in all areas of policy, while Olmert was supposedly a centrist leader. On the other, Olmert just gave lip service to peace without bringing about results, and his social and economic policies were just as conservative as Netanyahu's. On the peace front, at least we know where Bibi stands. Is it worse to openly oppose the two-state solution than to publicly embrace the idea without doing anything substantial to make it happen?

Speaking of the two-state solution, it is alive and well in the minds of the Israeli public. 57% of respondents in this poll said Netanyahu should tell Obama he accepts the idea of a Palestinian state. 35% say he shouldn't.

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