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Daybreak: Obama’s Mideast Strategy

Plus Palestinian engineer taken, the tsunami, and more in the news

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Tokyo.(STR/AFP/Getty Images)

• President Obama’s course is essentially to support regime change in North Africa and reform, but not regime change, elsewhere in the Arab world. [NYT]

• The operating manager of Gaza’s only power plant disappeared in Ukraine last month; his relatives allege Mossad has kidnapped him, and there is confirmation he is being held in an Israeli facility. [NYT]

• Prime Minister Netanyahu’s 32 percent approval rating is a new low, and there are questions about how long he can stay in power. [LAT]

• Meet the Egyptian general who is the main Pentagon liason to the folks running the country. [NYT]

• Sixty prisoners, including two put in jail for helping shoot Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, will be freed. [Ynet]

• The biggest news, of course, is the 8.9 earthquake and subsequent tsunami that has hit Japan, along with the tsunami warning for the U.S. West Coast. [NYT]

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According to the blog BibiReport:
Netanyahu is losing some popularity, but remains the dominant force in the country’s politics, according to a new Haaretz opinion poll.

The survey found that Mr Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party would win even more parliamentary seats than it currently holds, and that its leader remains Israelis’ favourite choice as prime minister.

Analysts said the poll, published in the Haaretz newspaper, would come as welcome news to the prime minister. They argue that the slip in Mr Netanyahu’s personal standing is probably the result of short-term factors and all other indicators point to his continuing dominance over a weak and divided opposition.

The survey appears to confirm that Mr Netanyahu’s overall standing has not been affected by two of his most controversial decisions since taking office: his declaration of support for a demilitarised Palestinian state and the partial and temporary freeze on new buildings in West Bank settlements.

These moves had cost the prime minister the support of some right-wing voters, said Prof Fuchs, but at the same time Mr Netanyahu had gained new backers in the political centre.
The prime minister may also have benefited from the improved security situation and the fact that Israel has been largely unaffected by the global economic crisis.

It is interesting to see a main stream media reporter rushing to celebrate a purported loss of approval for Prime Minister Netanyahu, rather than the truth of his continued high approval rating compared with his rival Tzipi Livni. Clearly the author could have done a little bit more research to sort out the difference between an incorrect reading of the data and a correct one. Netanyahu’s approval rating in his country is and has consistently been higher than Barack Obama’s approval rating in the US.

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Daybreak: Obama’s Mideast Strategy

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