28% of Israelis considering leaving the country amid judicial upheaval — poll

More than half of respondents say they fear civil war, security deterioration due to political schisms, Channel 13 survey finds

Anti-overhaul activists clash with police during a protest against the government's judicial overhaul, near the Knesset in Jerusalem, on July 24, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)
Anti-overhaul activists clash with police during a protest against the government's judicial overhaul, near the Knesset in Jerusalem, on July 24, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

A survey carried out Tuesday in the wake of the government passing the first law in its divisive judicial overhaul package found that over a quarter of Israelis are considering leaving the country.

The Channel 13 poll found that 28% of respondents were weighing a move abroad, 64% were not, and 8% were unsure.

The survey reflected the impact of the coalition passing the law on Monday, despite sustained mass protests, vehement opposition from top judicial, security, economic and public figures, and thousands of Israeli military reservists vowing to quit service.

Over half of the survey’s respondents — 54% — said they feared the judicial overhaul was harming Israel’s security, and 56% were worried about civil war.

Only 33% of respondents said they believed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s claim that he wants to compromise on the rest of the judicial overhaul legislation, although 84% of voters for the premier’s Likud party said they believed him.

Fifty-five percent of respondents said leading opposition figures Yair Lapid and Benny Gantz should return to negotiations.

Israel’s opinion polls can often be unreliable, but they influence politicians and voters.

National Unity party leader Benny Gantz speaks during a press conference at the Knesset on June July 19, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/ Flash90)

The Channel 13 survey also tallied support for political parties if a vote was held, although there are no national elections in the offing.

The survey predicted that Gantz’s National Unity party would win 30 seats in the 120-seat Knesset, the most of any party, if elections were held today, surpassing Likud, which ranked next with 25 seats.

Among coalition parties, the ultra-Orthodox Shas polled at 10 seats; the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism, 7; and the far-right Otzma Yehudit and Religious Zionism at 5 seats apiece.

Opposition Leader Lapid’s Yesh Atid party polled in third place, with 17 seats; Avigdor Liberman Yisrael Beytenu, 6 seats; the Arab Hadash-Ta’al faction, 5; the Islamist Ra’am, 6; and left-wing Meretz, 4. The center-left Labor and Arab Balad parties were not predicted to receive enough backing to cross the electoral threshold and win Knesset representation.

The parties in the current coalition would win 52 seats, far short of a majority and their current total of 64. The opposition parties would win 63 seats, without Hadash-Ta’al, which is not aligned with the rest of the opposition. The figure would give the current opposition parties enough of a majority to form a coalition.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant (left) and Justice Minister Yariv Levin (right) argue across Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Knesset on July 24, 2023, ahead of the vote on the reasonableness law. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The pollster Camille Fuchs carried out the survey for Channel 13. The poll queried 711 respondents and had a margin of error of 3.7%.

A separate poll by Channel 12 on Tuesday also predicted a drop for Netanyahu’s government if elections were held today, with the current coalition parties predicted to receive 53 seats.

The opposition parties, minus Hadash-Ta’al, got 62 seats in the survey.

One-third of respondents told Channel 12 that the judicial overhaul legislation should be completely halted, 29% said the bills should only move forward if the government reaches an agreement with the opposition, and 22% said the package should go ahead as it is, while the remainder were unsure.

Channel 12’s poll was carried out by the Midgam research firm, had 510 respondents and a margin of error of 4.4%.

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