Confrontation With Obama Boosts Netanyahu at Home; 55% Approve of Performance During US Trip (VIDEO)
The combination of a no-holds-barred speech at the United Nations, and a polite, but insistent face-off with the President of the United States on Jerusalem construction plans have given a tailwind to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s poll numbers, Israel’s Channel 2 News said Sunday.
Netanyahu last Wednesday rejected U.S. government criticism of an Israeli construction plan in the disputed Jerusalem neighborhood of Givat Hamatos, close to the Green Line.
“I think [the Obama administration] should be acquainted with the facts first,” Netanyahu said in an NBC News interview with Andrea Mitchell in New York, after returning there from Washington, DC, where he had met with U.S. President Barack Obama earlier in the day. “You know? First of all, these are not settlements. These are neighborhoods of Jerusalem. We have Arab neighborhoods and we have Jewish neighborhoods.”
In response to reports on Wednesday of the publication of a plan, already approved by the Jerusalem Municipality two years ago, to construct 2,500 residential units in Givat Hamatos, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said, “The United States is deeply concerned by reports that the Israeli government has moved forward with the planning process in a sensitive area of east Jerusalem.”
But despite the US critique, results of a survey by the Milward Brown Shiluv company, indicate that more than half of the Israeli public thinks the prime minister is doing the right thing.
Fifty-five percent of respondents said that Netanyahu’s performance last week was good or very good, compared to only 25 percent who thought that it was not very good or good. 20 percent of respondents did not express an opinion, or said they did not know.
For comparison, in a survey conducted immediately after Operation Protective Edge in Gaza, only 32 percent of the public expressed satisfaction with Netanyahu’s performance, compared with 59 percent who were not satisfied.
Although the latest numbers are a very positive figure for Netanyahu, another poll question could make him sweat a bit: when the public was asked who was the most qualified candidate to be prime minister, Netanyahu’s advantage showed clear erosion.
While Netanyahu remains in first place, with 23 percent of respondents naming him the most suitable candidate, Economy Minister Naftali Bennett of the Jewish Home Party’s 15 percent was a worrying development for the PM’s team. Opposition leader Yitzhak Herzog of Labor came in third place with 10 percent of the respondents’ support.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman came in fourth with nine percent, followed by the Minister of Justice Tzipi Livni with eight percent. Seven percent of respondents answered that former Communications Minister, Moshe Kahlon, expected to run on an independent ticket in the next election, is the most suitable candidate.
In dead last place was Minister of Finance Yair Lapid, with only four percent.
Twenty-four percent did not know who to choose or did not have an opinion.
Watch Netanyahu defend his policies in an interview with CBS News: