Another Close Race? Israel Polls Today


I was one of many who was seduced by the early poll results showing a John Kerry win after the last presidential election — despite my having reported that Karl Rove’s spirits had buoyed in the final days of the election. I had noted that Rove thought his camp was helped by bin Laden’s tape released just days before the election as well as Teresa Heinz Kerry’s comments that Laura Bush had never had a real job.
There were, of course, many other issues at play — including some election shenanigans (i.e. crimes) in Ohio and Florida. But those two incidents turned the election around in Rove’s assessment.
I also reported too early the polling results that showed Hamas in a huge surge in the Palestinian election but did not report them winning, as Hamas certainly did.
In the Israel case, I am just going to keep my powder dry. The Boston Globe is reporting a defection from Kadima and a surge for the far right parties in Israel, particularly Yisrael Beiten, which is supported by many of Israel’s newest Russian-speaking, hard-line immigrants.
I’m still hopeful for a strong showing by Labor and the centrist Kadima Parties, but we have to see how they fare.
It was not the brightest move by the Palestinian parliament to set tomorrow as the date for voting to approve the Hamas-led government. Avigdor Lieberman, head of the party Yisrael Beitenu, has been able to exploit the Hamas victory and make it more tangible because of tomorrow’s Palestinian Parliament vote.
To its credit, to some degree, Hamas has been trying to downplay Israeli concerns about near-term disorder, though in my view, Hamas has not been effective.
According to the Boston Globe‘s Anne Barnard:

Signaling possible flexibility, Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas’s choice for prime minister, told Palestinian legislators yesterday that his government would welcome “dialogue” with the so-called Quartet of Middle East interlocutors — the United States, Russia, the European Union, and the United Nations — “seeking all means to end the state of conflict and enforce calm in the region.”
Haniyeh also called on the international community to “line up with the values of justice and fairness . . . and not to take side with one party against another.” He did not make clear how Hamas would find common ground with the Quartet after so far rejecting its demands to renounce violence, recognize Israel, and accept previous peace agreements.
Israeli officials dismissed the comments as an attempt to lull international opinion on the eve of the Israeli vote.

We’ll be watching this race as it unfolds — but no announcements of the winner until they announce the winner.
— Steve Clemons