Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party has regained some ground after slipping in recent polls, according to a survey published Sunday, to increase its lead over Yamina, which has climbed to become its most serious challenger.
If elections were held now, Likud would win 29 seats, while the nationalist Yamina would get 22, according to the poll conducted by Channel 13 news.
The results gave Likud two more seats and Yamina two seats fewer than a poll last month. However, it would still be a sharp drop for Likud from its current 36 seats in the Knesset.
Yamina has surged in polls in recent months, since moving from the coalition to the opposition in the wake of the March elections, to take the number 2 spot behind Netanyahu’s Likud, amid growing dissatisfaction with the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. It has consistently been polling in the low 20s in projected Knesset seats (the party currently has just five).
Behind the two leading parties was current opposition leader Yesh Atid-Telem with 20 seats, up from its current 17.
The Joint List, a predominantly Arab party, would win 12 seats, the poll predicted, a slip of three seats from its current 15.
Blue and White, which is in a unity government with Likud, would drop from its current 14 seats to just ten.
Israel Beytenu, Shas, and United Torah Judaism would each win seven seats and the dovish Meretz party would score six.
Labor, Gesher, Derech Eretz, and the Jewish Home party would all fail to beat the threshold for entry into the Knesset.
Overall, the right-wing bloc of parties in the Knesset would control 66 seats, leaving the center-left with 48. Secularist Yisrael Beytenu, holding the remaining seven seats, would not have the power to tilt the balance away from the right.
Asked about their level of satisfaction with Netanyahu and his handling of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, 54 percent of those surveyed said they were not satisfied, while 41% said they were either reasonably satisfied or satisfied.
There was overwhelming pessimism about the prospect of a third lockdown being ordered to combat the virus spread, with 69% saying they expect another closure in the future. Just 16% said they do not think there will be another lockdown, and the rest responded that they do not know.
Yet, Netanyahu is still the favorite candidate for prime minister, with 36% saying he is the most suitable to lead the country out of current party chiefs, while just 21% would like to see Yamin leader MK Naftali Bennett at the helm. Lapid had the backing of just 15% while Defense Minister Benny Gantz, who leads the Blue and White party, had just 11% support. Under the terms of the unity government deal, Gantz is also alternate prime minister and is scheduled to take over from Netanyahu in November 2021.
Among the survey participants, 17% said they do not know who should be running the country.
Israel is still under a second national lockdown that has paralyzed much of the economy and public life but also brought down rampant virus infection rates. The government has begun lifting some of the closure orders, but many businesses, and, in particular, walk-in stores remain closed.
Asked how they felt about the future, 33% of people polled said that in six months their financial future would be better, 20% felt it would be worse, 35% said it would not change, and 12% said they do not know.
Respondents were also asked about the coming presidential elections in the United States, with 68% saying that reelection for President Donald Trump would be good for Israel, and just 12% favoring his challenger, Democrat Joe Biden. A fifth, 20% said they do not know who would be better.
The Channel 13 survey was conducted by Kamil Fuchs, and involved a sample of 702 people. The Midgam company polled 602 Jewish citizens, while Statnet sampled 100 who were not Jewish. The margin of error was 3.9% and the data was weighted based on previous voting patterns and to account for religious positions, the channel said.