Last updated: 9 May, 2012

Israel’s Netanyahu forms surprise coalition with Kadima

Israelis are divided on premier Benjamin Netanyahu’s move to form a shock coalition government with the Kadima opposition party and scrap plans for early elections, several polls showed on Wednesday.

Netanyahu and Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz announced their decision to go into government together early on Tuesday, saying it would restore stability to Israel’s coalition and avoid the need for an early vote.

In a survey published in the Maariv newspaper on Wednesday, 30.7 percent of respondents expressed support for the formation of the surprise coalition, with 29.9 percent saying they were opposed and 31 percent expressing indifference.

But over half of respondents — 50.9 percent — said the move was “justified as far as the interests of the country are concerned.”

A poll published by the Israel HaYom newspaper found similar sentiments, with 39.6 percent expressing support for the decision, 31.9 percent opposed and 28.4 percent unsure.

And a third survey, broadcast on Israel’s Channel 10, found 44 percent support for the decision, with 37 percent opposed and 19 percent saying they had no opinion.

The Maariv poll, which surveyed 550 people, found that 57.4 percent believed the new government would last until late next year, when elections are scheduled to take place.

But they were less confident that the government would be able to carry out its stated priorities, which include reforming a law that allows ultra-Orthodox Jews to defer military service and overhauling Israel’s political system.

Just 37.7 percent believe the coalition will be able to achieve those goals, with 46.7 percent convinced the government will fail and 15.6 percent saying they were unsure.

The agreement, which is set to be voted on by the Knesset on Wednesday, will put Netanyahu at the helm of a ruling coalition with an overwhelming 94 votes in the 120-seat parliament.