Majority of Israelis think Annapolis failed

Poll shows Shas voters want to quit government because of Annapolis, Israel Beiteinu's want to stay.

Livni graceful 224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Livni graceful 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak returned from Annapolis Thursday boasting of big successes, but polls published Thursday found that an overwhelming majority of Israelis believe the summit failed. Asked whether the summit succeeded or failed, 50 percent of respondents in Yediot Aharonot's Dahaf poll said it failed, 18% said it succeeded and 32% said they did not know. The numbers were similar in Haaretz's dialogue poll, where 42% said it failed and 17% said it succeeded. A Gal Hadash poll broadcast on Channel 10 found that 20% believe it succeeded and 42% think it failed. In a Ma'agar Mohot poll on Israel Radio, 56% of Israelis said it was too early to judge the summit. But of those who had an opinion one way or the other, 15% said it succeeded and 29% said it failed. The Israel Radio poll asked Shas and Israel Beiteinu voters whether their party should leave the government because of the summit. Sixty percent of Shas voters said yes, up from 50% in a poll by the same company two weeks ago, while 30% said the party should remain. By contrast, 71% of Israel Beiteinu voters said the party should stay in the government, up from 53% two weeks ago, and 27% said it should leave. A source close to Israel Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman said, "The poll showed that the public is not stupid, and the voters realize from the way that Lieberman toned down the summit, that he can have a lot more influence from inside the government." A Shas spokesman said it was not new that the party's voters were more right-wing than its leadership. He said the party had succeeded in toning down Annapolis and now its goal was to tone down the post-Annapolis negotiations. "Our departure [from the government] is getting closer, but it all depends on how serious the negotiations on Jerusalem become," the spokesman said. "We are staying for now, even if it's not what our voters want according to the poll." The Dahaf poll asked Israelis who they thought was the most fitting candidate to be prime minister. Thirty-four percent said Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu, 17% said Barak and 14% said Olmert. Barak responded to his failure to rise in the polls in a speech to the Labor executive committee at the party's Tel Aviv headquarters. In Labor's past election victories, he said, the party also trailed far behind in the polls a year before the elections. In his speech, Barak praised the summit in depth and sounded more convinced than ever that he will have to break his promise to reconsider Labor's presence in the government when the Winograd Report comes out in the next month or two. "Sixty years after the UN partition plan, the political and demographic situation require two states for two peoples," he said. "Labor and I will do whatever is necessary to make this dream come true." Barak received backing for remaining in the government at the event from his ally, National Infrastructures Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, and from one of his top critics in the party, MK Ephraim Sneh. "The main reason we entered the government was to ensure the restart of the diplomatic process," Sneh said. "We have an interest in this government continuing, even though there are people in our party who hate Olmert more than they love peace." "Being in the opposition is only good if you want to clear your throat and sing in the opera," Ben-Eliezer added. "In order to get things done, you have to sit in the government."