Israelis split over shock coalition deal: polls

AFP , Wednesday 9 May 2012

Survey published in Maariv newspaper, Wednesday, shows Israeli citizens are divided over Prime Minister Netanyahu's move to form coalition government with Kadima opposition party and to scrap plans for early elections

Israelis are divided on premier Benjamin Netanyahu's move to form a shock coalition government with the Kadima opposition party and scrap plans for early elections, several polls showed on Wednesday.

Netanyahu and Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz announced their decision to go into government together early on Tuesday, saying it would restore stability to Israel's coalition and avoid the need for an early vote.

In a survey published in the Maariv newspaper on Wednesday, 30.7 per cent of respondents expressed support for the formation of the surprise coalition, with 29.9 per cent saying they were opposed and 31 per cent expressing indifference.

But over half of respondents -- 50.9 per cent -- said the move was "justified as far as the interests of the country are concerned."

A poll published by the Israel HaYom newspaper found similar sentiments, with 39.6 percent expressing support for the decision, 31.9 per cent opposed and 28.4 per cent unsure.

And a third survey, broadcast on Israel's Channel 10, found 44 per cent support for the decision, with 37 per cent opposed and 19 per cent saying they had no opinion.

The Maariv poll, which surveyed 550 people, found that 57.4 per cent believed the new government would last until late next year, when elections are scheduled to take place.

But they were less confident that the government would be able to carry out its stated priorities, which include reforming a law that allows ultra-Orthodox Jews to defer military service and overhauling Israel's political system.

Just 37.7 per cent believe the coalition will be able to achieve those goals, with 46.7 per cent convinced the government will fail and 15.6 per cent saying they were unsure.

The agreement, which is set to be voted on by the Knesset on Wednesday, will put Netanyahu at the helm of a ruling coalition with an overwhelming 94 votes in the 120-seat parliament.

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