Gaza op weakens Israel right-wing gov’t: Survey
The Gaza raid has cost PM Netanyahu some public support, says a survey. REUTERS photo
Discontent over the cease fire struck by the Israeli prime minister with Hamas in Gaza has cost Benjamin Netanyahu some public support, although he is still expected to win the upcoming election on Jan. 22, a recent opinion poll has shown.
The Israeli Maariv newspaper conducted the survey after an eight-day Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip ended Nov. 21 with an Egyptian-mediated truce that Netanyahu’s critics said was premature. The survey said the newly-merged Likud Beitenu party of Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman would take 37 of the 120 parliamentary seats up for election Jan. 22. A poll before the conflict suggested they would win 43, Reuters reported.
The two factions presently hold 42 seats combined.
Despite the predicted drop in support, Netanyahu remains on track to win a third term as prime minister at the head of a coalition of right-wing and religious parties that together look set to take 67 seats, the poll said Nov. 23.
The survey said 31 percent of Israelis approved of the cease fire while 49 percent were opposed. When asked if the army should have re-occupied Gaza, 41 percent were against the idea and 29 percent were in favor.
First Palestinian killed by Israeli fire since truce
Meanwhile, a Palestinian was shot dead by Israeli forces near the Gaza border Nov. 23, the first casualty since the two sides agreed to a truce ending their week-long conflict in which 163 Palestinians were killed. Some 19 other Palestinians suffered gunshot wounds, Palestinian medics said.
Israel also barred Palestinians under the age of 40 from accessing Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque, Islam’s third holiest site after Friday prayers.
Russia ‘sends ships’ to Gaza
Russia dispatched a group of ships to the coast of the Gaza Strip in order to evacuate Russians in case of an escalation in the Hamas-Israel conflict, a source in the navy has said.
“The detachment of combat ships of the Black Sea Fleet, including the guards missile cruiser Moskva, the patrol ship Smetliviy, large landing ships Novocherkassk and Saratov, the sea tug MB-304 and the big sea tanker Ivan Bubnov, got the order to remain in the designated area of the Mediterranean Sea for a possible evacuation of Russians from the Gaza Strip, in case of an escalation in the conflict,” the source said, according to the Voice of Russia.
Israelis ‘contact’ Turkey
CAIRO – Anatolia News Agency
Israeli officials contacted Turkey via two different channels during truce talks, said Hamas Chief Khaled Mashaal, adding that Hamas was in contact with Turkey until the last minute of negotiations.
“Israeli officials called Turkey through two channels for the truce. We were in contact with Turkish officials until the last hour,” Mashaal said. He said the international community pressed for a cease-fire to save Israeli Premier Netanyahu upon his request. “Turkey, Qatar and Egypt effected the truce process. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan contributed to ending Israeli strikes on Gaza. Phone diplomacy with the U.S. was especially very important,” he added.