The popularity of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has slipped, according to polls released Thursday, as Israelis doubt his claims of victory after seven weeks of fighting.

A Palestinian youth takes cover behind a makeshift barrier during clashes with Israeli soldiers on November 17, 2012. Israeli strikes on Gaza destroyed the Hamas government headquarters as Israel called up thousands more reservists for a possible ground war

The poll results come two days after the announcement of a ceasefire that ended an ongoing conflict between Israel and militant groups in the Gaza Strip.

While Netanyahu has declared that Israel had achieved “victory” in Gaza, only a quarter of respondents in a poll by Haaretz newspaper agreed with that statement.

Haaretz, which traditionally holds a liberal-left editorial stance, is known to be critical of Netanyahu’s government.

Netanyahu’s current 50-per-cent approval ratings are still higher than the 40-per-cent level he received before the war, but they have slipped from a high of 77 per cent during the initial phase of the conflict.

Meanwhile, Palestinians are considering their next steps in the international arena, which could include asking the United Nations to impose a timetable on Israel for a withdrawal from the West Bank, which it occupies.

Nabil Shaath, a senior official from President Mahmoud Abbas’ secular Fatah party, told the Maan news agency they might consider going to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

The Arab League will meet in early September to consider the Palestinians’ requests.

Following a ceasefire reached on Tuesday, Israeli forces arrested overnight more than a dozen Palestinian activists in the West Bank, including several from Hamas, indicating that tensions are still high.

More than 2,100 Palestinians were killed in Gaza during seven weeks of fighting. According to the UN, most of them were civilians, including more than 500 children.

On the Israeli side, 64 soldiers and seven civilians died.

In one of the first tangible signs of improvement for the Palestinians since the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire went into effect, fishermen were able to cast their nets six miles off Gaza’s coast, more than double their previous limits.



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