Thursday, January 1, 2009

Haaretz Poll: 71% of Israelis Support Continuing Gaza Op; Labor Gains Support

A decisive majority of respondents support continuing the army's air campaign against Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip without endangering the lives of Israel Defense Forces soldiers in a ground offensive, according to a Haaretz-Dialog public opinion poll.

Only about 20% of respondents support expanding the operation into a ground campaign - about the same proportion that supports an immediate cease-fire.

According to the survey, 52% of Israelis favor continuing the air assault against Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip, though just 19% say the Israel Defense Forces should launch an extensive ground incursion.

In contrast, 19% of respondents say the government should negotiate a cease-fire as soon as possible. Nine percent say they had no opinion or refused to answer.

The Labor Party has emerged the biggest political winner of the war against Hamas so far, according to the poll.

Labor and its head, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, have made significant gains, bringing the left-wing to a 60:60 draw against right-wing and ultra-Orthodox parties....

Barak's personal fortunes improved sharply, with 53% of poll respondents expressing satisfaction with his performance (compared to just 34% about six months ago). A larger number, 38% are dissatisfied with him but that is nevertheless a significant improvement over the 52% disapproval rating of six months ago.

Olmert, too, has gotten a popularity boost, with a 33% popularity rating this week compared to an average of 14% since the Second Lebanon War, about two-and-a-half years ago.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu are also getting good grades from the public for their performances in recent days.

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