Netanyahu Orders Survey to Look Into Legalization of Marijuana, Withdrawal From Golan Heights

Premier also using poll ahead of April 9 ballot to see whether Israelis want him as finance minister

FILE Photo: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Nir Barkat at a conference in Jerusalem, April, 2018.
Olivier Fitoussi

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered a public opinion poll to examine the possibility of appointing himself, or Likud candidate and former Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat, as finance minister after the April 9 election.

The weakening support in the polls for present Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu party seems to have interested Netanyahu in the possibility of keeping the finance portfolio in his party – if he forms the next government – and he is considering whether to refocus on the economic arena.

Likud has still not yet decided how to address the small parties that pass the electoral threshold in the polls, Netanyahu said on Monday. For now the focus is on attacking the chairman of the Kahol Lavan party, Benny Gantz, added Netanyahu.

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But behind the scenes Netanyahu ordered a poll to examine support for a number of issues he wants to promote, including decriminalizing marijuana – or even full legalization. Netanyahu said on Monday that he is examining the issue, but he was referring to the public opinion poll and not to a professional analysis.

Another question being examined in the polls is if Gabi Ashkenazi’s support for a withdrawal from the Golan Heights will affect voter support for Kahol Lavan. It seems that Netanyahu is preparing to attack Kahol Lavan on the issue as part of the Likud campaign.

In the most recent election poll conducted by Haaretz, surveys find Kahol Lavan losing momentum as Likud maintains its standing. The Gantz and Lapid slate dropped to 31 seats from the 35-36 projected last week.

Meanwhile, the right-wing, ultra-Orthodox bloc is overtaking its rivals as Moshe Feiglin and his far-right Zehut party safely crossed the minimum for the first time.