Facing the first serious challenge to his leadership since 2009, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is now favored to be re-elected to a fourth term, according to a new poll.
In the survey of Israeli voters conducted by Panels Research for The Jerusalem Post, Netanyahu's support has increased from 38 percent last week to 44 percent, which is the highest his approval has reached since the election date was announced.
Conversely, the percentage of those who oppose his re-election dropped from 55 percent last week to 52 percent in the recent poll.
The Jerusalem Post poll also showed Netanyahu's Likud Party with a one-seat lead over the Zionist Union, a finding which was reflected in two other surveys released in recent days, reports The Times of Israel.
A Maariv poll found 44 percent of respondents wanted to see Netanyahu re-elected and also predicted that his party would win 25 seats, compared with projections of 24 seats for the Zionist Camp.
The results were similar to a poll published by the Walla news website on Friday.
The poll results were released after a particularly violent week in the Middle East, which saw two Israeli soldiers and a Spanish peacekeeper killed by missiles fired along the northern border with Lebanon, Reuters reported.
Although Hezbollah has claimed responsibility for the attack, Netanyahu pinned the blame on Iran, saying that Iran "is responsible for yesterday’s attack against us from Lebanon," reports The New York Daily News.
In recent weeks, Netanyahu's re-election chances did not appear secure in the midst of criticism at home and abroad concerning his decision to accept an invitation from House Speaker John Boehner to address a joint session of Congress before the election.
Amos Yadlin, who once provided security briefings to Netanyahu as his military intelligence chief, accused the prime minister of playing a "political game" before the election.
"I think it's a political game, I think what makes the prime minister irresponsible," Yadlin, who is the defense minister designee of the center-left party Zionist Camp, told Ynetnews.
He added that "when we manage our relationship with the U.S., we have to manage it simultaneously with the president and Congress. The prime minister has made it in to a partisan issue in the U.S., and we cannot let Israel become a problem for one party or the other."
Accusations of political gamesmanship were made after it was learned that the Israeli government has issued 450 tenders for housing units in the West Bank, according to Reuters.
A senior Israel government official maintained the tenders actually were a part of an old group of unpurchased tenders that are being reissued.
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