(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Former IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi would not be warmly welcomed into politics if he decides to enter the fray, according to polls taken for three Israeli channels and broadcast on Thursday.
A day after Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein announced his decision to close the file against Ashkenazi in the Harpaz Affair, a Midgam poll taken for Channel 2 found that 41 percent of Israelis prefer Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to 16% for Ashkenazi, with 43% declining to choose either or saying that they did not know. The poll found that 28.8% believe Ashkenazi has the best chance to defeat Netanyahu, followed by Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid with 24% and Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog with 8.4%.
A Panels Research poll taken for the Knesset Channel found that 43% of Israelis do not want Ashkenazi to enter politics and only 31% want him to begin a political career. The remaining 23% had no opinion or declined to answer.
Asked what party Ashkenazi should enter, 31% said the Zionist Union, 28% Yesh Atid, 20% Likud, and 2-4% said Kulanu, Bayit Yehudi, Yisrael Beytenu or other parties. Nine percent had no opinion or did not respond to the question.
The poll of 500 respondents representing a statistical sample of the Israeli population was taken Wednesday and had a margin of error of 4.3%.
A Dialog poll of 654 respondents taken for Channel 10 found that a party led by the triumvirate of Ashkenazi, Lapid and Kulanu leader Moshe Kahlon could win 29 seats and beat Likud. The poll, which has a 4.4% error margin, found that he could win three more seats than Lapid or Herzog as the head of their parties, but would have little impact on the political map.
Ashkenazi has been silent about whether he wants to enter politics, but his associates said Weinstein’s decision would enable him to run. Both Herzog and Lapid have indicated that Ashkenazi would be welcome in their parties.
Herzog’s No. 2 in the Zionist Union, MK Tzipi Livni, said she hopes Ashkenazi enters politics and joins the Zionist Union. But Zionist Union MK Shelly Yacimovich said the cloud over Ashkenazi in the Harpaz Affair remains.
“Ashkenazi’s behavior comes out problematic, political, and manipulative from what Weinstein wrote,” she said. “Unfortunately, everything I say will be judged wrongly as coming from an imaginary political rival.”
Lapid praised Ashkenazi in an interview with Army Radio, but he indicated that the best the retired general could be in Yesh Atid is his number two.
In the Zionist Union, he could run for the leadership of the Labor Party in a race that must be held by May, unless the party constitution is changed, as expected.
Joint List MK Ahmad Tibi said it was wrong of Israelis to “make military men the messiahs of Israel’s failed political system” and to consider crowing Ashkenazi, “because he killed more Arabs than Netanyahu.”
“It is unfortunate that voters are waiting for a military man,” said Tibi, who is a physician. “I would prefer that they wait for a philosopher, an educator or a doctor, of course.”