Jerusalem, Aug. 2 (Xinhua-ANI): Public support for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has hit an all-time low, a new poll published by the Ha’aretz daily on Thursday revealed.
For the first time since the beginning of his term, 60 percent of the respondents said they were unhappy with the prime minister’ s overall performance, while 31 percent said they were content.
The poll, conducted by Prof. Camil Fuchs from the Tel Aviv University, also shows dismal support for Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, with 67 percent expressing dissatisfaction with his policies.
On Monday, the cabinet approved Netanyahu and Steinitz’s austerity plan, devised to curb the burgeoning 2012 deficit. It includes tax hikes and budget cuts, as well as increase in the prices of fuel, cigarettes and alcohol.
The Israeli public, however, immediately came out swinging against the program’s tenets.
Another reason suggested for the plummeting support is Netanyahu’s siding with ultra-Orthodox coalition partners over the Tal Law issue.
The government missed an Aug. 1 deadline, imposed by the Supreme Court in January, to find an alternative to the decade-old law, which allowed ultra-Orthodox yeshiva (religious seminary) students to defer their service until turning 28 — to the ire of many Israelis who serve in the army.
The failure to draft a new bill resulted in the Kadima party leaving the super-unity government on July 17, causing a shakeup in the political makeup which may lead to early elections.
However, some local political analysts have said that Netanyahu is interested in putting elections off as long as possible, and have them center around a security-military, rather than economic- social agenda.
On Wednesday, Knesset (parliament) opposition and Kadima party leader Shaul Mofaz accused Netanyahu of exploiting tensions with Iran as a ruse to deflect negative public opinion about him.
Speaking to Israel Radio, Mofaz said Netanyahu’s frequent talk alluding to a possible Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilities is aiming to divert the negative public opinion caused by the failed Tal law and the austerity plan.
In the interview, Mofaz said Netanyahu, who declared on Tuesday that Israel has a “free choice” in deciding whether to attack Iran, is motivated by fears of not being re-elected. (Xinhua-ANI)