Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Despite His Troubles, Benjamin Netanyahu Is Still Tough to Beat in Israel Vote

Benjamin Netayahu Is Emerging as a Favorite to Win a Mandate for a Fourth Term Despite His Low Approval Ratings and Other Problems
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suffers from weak approval ratings, scandals about mismanagement of his residence, a sluggish economy and an outcry over a coming speech to the U.S. Congress.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at a 
campaign event in Jerusalem. 
Photo: European Pressphoto Agency
And yet, the Israeli leader remains the favorite to emerge after the March 17 election with a mandate for a fourth term.
Recent polls show the Israeli leader’s right-wing Likud party in a tight race with the opposition Labor Party, led by Yitzhak Herzog. Nearly a month before the vote, the race is still open, with surveys showing that as many as one in four voters is undecided. And in the previous two elections, Likud has underperformed pre-election polls.
But the surveys also show Mr. Netanyahu with an easier path than Mr. Herzog to forming a majority coalition in the 120-seat Knesset, or parliament.
A Netanyahu victory would likely leave peace talks with the Palestinians sidelined, enable Jewish settlements to expand in the West Bank, and leave his government at odds with the Obama administration over Iran policy.
The Israeli leader called the early election in December after becoming frustrated with managing a fractious coalition, including centrists who have roiled his government.
Mr. Netanyahu is betting the vote will both strengthen Likud and let him forge a new coalition built on an alliance of right-wing and religious parties. It is a gamble that has a good chance of paying off, political analysts say.
Read the rest of the story HERE.

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