Latest survey says Jewish Home party head best represents Israel’s right.
Lieberman stands by W. Bank land annexation.
The new leader of the Israeli right and greatest threat to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s leadership is Bayit Hayehudi (Jewish Home) party head Naftali Bennett, according to a poll released Monday by Panel Politics on behalf of the Knesset Channel.
The poll asked who best illustrates the beliefs of the right-wing, allowing respondents to select from between Netanyahu, Bennett and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.
39 percent voted for Bennett, 28 percent chose Netanyahu and the rest opted for Lieberman.
“Bennett finished second to the prime minister in many polls who asked who is most fit to be prime minister,” said Jewish Home party official Jeremy Saltan on his website KnessetJeremy.com. “He has the most internal support of all democratic (primary) party leaders. The discussion today should be on Bennett and Bayit Yehudi. It is time we crown Bennett the new leader of the right.”
Only 31 percent of those surveyed believed Lieberman was trustworthy and would fulfill his electoral promises.
The poll also found that Bennett’s party would win 19 seats if elections were held today and that Netanyahu’s party – Likud – would still remain the largest party with 26 seats.
Lapid warns of West Bank land grab, Lieberman voices support
Meanwhile, Israeli Finance Minister Yair Lapid warned Tuesday that Israel was eroding its international support after Washington joined a chorus of criticism of its biggest appropriation of Palestinian land since the 1980s.
Lapid complained that the cabinet had not been consulted about Sunday’s announcement of the confiscation of 400 hectares (988 acres) of land in the West Bank to pave the way for further settlement building.
“The announcement, which wasn’t brought to the cabinet, regarding 900 acres of land for building in Gush Etzion (between Jerusalem and Hebron) harms the State of Israel,” Lapid told an economic conference in Tel Aviv.
“Maintaining the support of the world was already challenging, so why was it so urgent to create another crisis with the United States and the world?” he asked.
Lapid, a moderate within the governing coalition, was alluding to widespread international condemnation of the high Palestinian civilian death toll during Israel’s 50-day war in Gaza.
But Bennett, whose far-right Jewish Home party draws much of its support from the settler lobby, defended the move, saying it was retaliation for the murder of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank.
“It’s 120 years that the world has opposed our construction, and we’ll continue to do it,” he said, equating settlement building in the West Bank with construction in what is now Israel in the years before its creation in 1948.
Lieberman also stood by Israel’s decision to expropriate the land, saying that “the official policy of the government of Israel is principally to focus on the settlement blocs, which would clearly remain under Israeli sovereignty in any [potential] agreement.”
“Gush Etzion reflects a wide-ranging consensus in Israeli society, and it’s clear to everyone that as part of any settlements Gush Etzion would remain a part of the state of Israel,” he added, speaking at a press conference with US politicians Eliot Engel and Ed Royce.
The international community regards all Jewish settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, as illegal, and Sunday’s announcement by the army drew strong US and UN criticism.
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