In TV poll, Israelis give new government negative marks on pandemic performance

59% of survey respondents say PM Bennett and his ministers are doing a bad job of handling coronavirus amid resurgence in morbidity

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett receives a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot at Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba, on August 20, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett receives a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot at Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba, on August 20, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Nearly 60 percent of Israelis disapprove of the new government’s stewardship of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a television poll aired on Friday.

While 59% say the government is doing a bad job on dealing with the virus, 35% of respondents to the Channel 12 news survey gave it positive marks. The remaining 6% did not know.

The poll comes amid a resurgence in morbidity, after new daily infections dropped to low double and even single digits around the time of the government’s swearing-in in June.

To stem rising infections, the government has reimposed numerous restrictions, but refrained from ordering another lockdown. It has also offered a third dose of the coronavuris vaccine to older Israelis, and is expected to further open up eligibility to everyone in the coming weeks, after making booster shots available to all people over the age of 40 on Friday.

The TV poll also asked how Israelis graded the performance of top ministers: 51% said that Bennett was doing a bad job and 40% said that he was doing a good job.

For Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, 43% approved and 43% disapproved; for Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, 43% approved and 45% disapproved; for Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman, 35% approved and 56% disapproved; and for Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton, 38% approved and 48% disapproved.

The only minister included in the poll with a favorability rating above water was Defense Minister Benny Gantz, with 60% positively grading his performance and 29% saying he’s doing a poor job.

From left to right: Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on August 2, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The survey asked respondents who they believed was best suited to be prime minister, comparing Bennett and other senior ministers with ex-premier Benjamin Netanyahu, who is now the opposition leader.

In a head-to-head with Bennett, 45% say Netanyahu is better cut out for the post, versus 25% who favor the incumbent prime minister. Against Lapid, 47% prefer Netanyahu to be premier over Israel’s top diplomat. An identical percentage also said Netanyahu when paired with Gantz, with 26% backing the latter.

Though he was removed from office in June after 12 straight years in power, a majority — 56% — do not believe the Netanyahu era is over, while 34% say it is. The network did not explain if this meant most participants believe Netanyahu will return to the premiership or merely remain active in politics.

Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu at the Knesset, on August 2 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Additionally, the poll included a question for supporters of Netanyahu’s Likud party on who they would back for Likud leader if and when he steps down.

The leading contender were former Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat with 31%, followed by former ministers Miri Regev with 12%, Avi Dichter with 9%, Yuli Edelstein with 6%, Israel Katz with 5% and Tzachi Hanegbi with 3%.

The survey was conducted by pollster Manu Geva. The network did not provide data on how many respondents there were or the margin of error.

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