Four pre-election polls published Thursday night and Friday morning show varying results, but two of them reveal that the popularity of Labor-Livni has grown by a solitary seat in the Knesset. Nevertheless, Israel’s establishment media are reporting the trivial news as if there is a rush of support for the left.
Polls are not meaningless, but when a party registers one seat more or one less from week to week, it is virtually insignificant, numerically as well as statistically when taking into account the margin of error in small samples.
That has not stopped Israel Radio, known by the misnomer in English as the Voice of Israel, from promoting the results of this week’s poll as a victory for the “Zionist camp,” a label now claimed by everyone except for Neturei Karta.
Similarly, three television polls show that the lead party is the “Zionist camp,” whose list of candidates likely to be elected includes those who want to turn over all of Judea and Samaria as well as half of Jerusalem to the Palestinian Authority, which has said that no Jew will be allowed to live there.
The same poll trumpeted by Israel radio also shows that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has a 4 percentage lead over Labor party leaders Yitzchak Herzog and Tzipi Livni when voters are faced with the question of who should be Prime Minister. However, Rafi Smith, who carried out the poll, said this is insignificant because of the margin of error, which apparently does not apply to results in favor of the left.
But that was the secondary headline.
The big news, according to Israel Radio, is that Herzog-Livni is now leading the Likud party by two seats instead of one.
The gap is 2, 4 and 1 in three polls on television channels 2, 10 and 1.
More significant is that Herzog-Livni still have no chance to form a coalition government without an ungodly collection of Meretz and Yisrael Beiteinu or Yisrael Beiteinu and Haredi parties.
After adding up all the numbers, the picture has not changed from last week or even last month: There are two camps: the anti-Netanyahu parties of Labor-Livni, Meretz and Yesh Atid, headed by Yair Lapid; and the pro-Netanyahu camp of the Likud and the Jewish Home, which according to all polls is holding stable with 16-17 mandates.
The most significant changes in the numbers relate to Yisrael Beiteinu, which has been in a clear trend of a decline in the past month. The four polls give the party 5, 6 and 7 seats, far less than when the current Knesset was dissolved.
After taking into account small differences in poll results for the other parties, Kulanu, headed by Moshe Kahlon, Yesh Atid, Meretz and Shas are not moving up or down significantly.
Eli Yishai, who split from Shas and formed his own party, still is on the borderline of being shut out of the Knesset.
There are other very significant indications: If Labor-Livni picks up any more seats, it will be at the expense of Meretz or Yesh Atid, and vice-versa. If Kulanu attracts more voters, they likely will move over from Yesh Atid, Yisrael Beiteinu and possibly the Likud.
There still are two months left before voters go to the polls, and Israel Radio and most of the television channels will try to convince voters that Herzog and Livni have the best chance to win.
If the combined party comes out on top, President Reuven Rivlin will have little choice but to give it the first crack at forming a government, which brings back to mind the elections five years ago.Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu