Not take long after Olmert declared his intention to step down, Israel’s Channel 10 news published the results of a new poll, in which Israelis were asked whom they would want to see as Prime Minister: Likud chairman and opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu; Labor head and former prime minister Ehud Barak; or one of two possible new leaders for Olmert’s Kadima party: Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, or Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz, who is currently her leading opponent in the race for Kadima’s leadership. The results:
Scenario A: Livni heads Kadima: Netanyahu 36%; Livni 24.6%; Barak 11.9%
Scenario B: Mofaz heads Kadima: Netanyahu 36.6%; Barak 14.8%; Mofaz 12%.
We learn two things from these polls: First: Israelis are really not interested in the current government, and are likely to punish not only Kadima but also their coalition partner, Labor. Second: for this very reason, both Kadima and Labor are likely to do everything in their power to keep the government going as long as possible. The key to Israel’s political future, then, rests, as it so often does, with the coalition’s third-largest party, Shas. And Shas is likely to milk its current position as political linchpin for all it’s worth.