Most Israelis believe the Likud-Kadima unity deal was driven by personal and political considerations rather than the national good, and few believe the new 94-MK coalition will carry out the promises its leaders made Tuesday, a Haaretz-Dialog poll has found.
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Evidently, Tuesday's lengthy press conference by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Kadima chairman Shaul Mofaz failed to convince the public, which remains suspicious and skeptical of all their talk about national responsibility: Only a quarter of respondents said they believe the two were motivated by the good of the country.
It seems the deal's timing - at the eleventh hour, one minute before the Knesset dissolved - caused the public to view the new partnership with a jaundiced eye. Had a unity government been formed at the start of the Knesset term, or even halfway through, it would likely have been viewed differently. But coming when it did, Mofaz appears to have jumped in bed with Netanyahu solely to save himself from political extinction.
The same skepticism is evident when it comes to the promises written in the Likud-Kadima coalition agreement: About half the public believes the government will not abide by its commitment to pass a law to draft ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students, whereas only one-third believe such legislation will be enacted and that the ultra-Orthodox will start being drafted.
Disbelief in the promise to change the system of government is even more widespread: Only a quarter of respondents voiced confidence that the current system would be changed, while more than half said nothing would change and everything would remain as it was. Since the coalition agreement states that governmental reform will be enacted by the end of this year, the coalition would have to move quickly to keep this promise.
But despite the widespread cynicism, the deal did little to change how people said they would vote in the next election, with one notable exception: Yair Lapid's new party, Yesh Atid, lost about 40 percent of its support compared to the last poll, which was conducted just 10 days ago. That poll showed him winning 10 seats; the current poll gives him only six.
Why the drop? Perhaps it's because the public understood that Lapid will be irrelevant for the next year to year and a half. Perhaps people doubt that he will survive being left outside the political spotlight for that long. Or perhaps the man on the street was waiting in vain to hear what Lapid had to say about the hot new political developments - something they had no trouble hearing from the heads of all the other parties.
Lapid was filmed Tuesday in the lobby of a hotel in Atlanta, Georgia, where he is attending a conference, and two television interviewers - from Channel 2 and Channel 10 - tried to extract some statement from him, at least a few words, about what was happening in Israel. But Lapid, himself a former journalist, panicked: He actually fled from them as if he were pursued by demons, rather than by two former colleagues who were just trying to get a response from him.
The poll was conducted Tuesday under the supervision of Prof. Camil Fuchs of Tel Aviv University's statistics department.