Survey: Netanyahu favored over Gantz as PM for first time in a year; Likud gains on National Unity

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and War Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz at a press conference in the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv, October 28, 2023. (Abir Sultan/ Pool Photo via AP)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and War Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz at a press conference in the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv, October 28, 2023. (Abir Sultan/ Pool Photo via AP)

For the first time in a year, Benjamin Netanyahu is the preferred choice as prime minister of more Israelis than his rival Benny Gantz, a Channel 12 survey finds.

Netanyahu is preferred to Gantz by 36% to 30% of respondents, the survey shows. He is also preferred to Opposition leader Yair Lapid (by 37% to 30%), former prime minister Naftali Bennett (34% to 32%), and would-be prime minister Avigdor Liberman (36% to 19%).

Gantz was preferred to Netanyahu by 45% to 27% in a December survey, and by 35% to 29% as recently as April, the TV station notes, and ascribes the change to Gantz’s threat to leave the war coalition, apparently shedding considerable support that he had accrued for ostensible statesmanship in joining the coalition after October 7. (Netanyahu outscored Gantz by 38% to 37% in a Channel 12 survey on May 18, 2023.)

If elections were held today, the survey also shows Netanyahu’s Likud strengthening and Gantz’s National Unity sliding.

It also finds an anticipated joint Labor-Meretz lit led by newly elected Labor leader Yair Golan would win 10 seats. Repeated polls have shown that under former leader Merav Michaeli, Labor would not have passed the electoral threshold in the next elections.

The parties would score as follows, the poll finds: National Unity: 25; Likud: 21; Yesh Atid: 13; Shas: 10; Yisrael Beytenu: 10; a joint Labor-Meretz list: 10; Otzmah Yehudit: 9; United Torah Judiasm: 7; Ra’am: 5; Religious Zionism: 5; Hadash-Ta’al: 5.

At its height, in a December survey, Channel 12 notes, the gulf between National Unity and Likud was 37-18 — as in, 19 seats; now the gap is down to four seats.

In terms of potential coalition blocs, the pro-Netanyahu camp has 52 seats (compared to the 64 it has today) — far short of a majority in the 120-member Knesset — while the other parties have 68. However, that 68 includes two majority Arab lists, Ra’am and Hadash-Ta’al, each with five seats, either or both of which would likely not sit easily in a coalition with Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu.

A new right-wing party with Bennett, ex-Mossad chief Yossi Cohen, New Hope leader Gideon Sa’ar and Liberman would win 16 seats, the poll shows, while Likud and National Unity would both slip to 21 seats each, and Yesh Atid would win 12.

The survey also showed 49% of respondents want a state commission of inquiry into the events of October 7 to be held now; 40% want one at the end of the war, and 3% do not want such an inquiry at all.

It also showed 63% of respondents believe Miri Regev should resign over her alleged misconduct as transportation minister, while 15% think she she should stay.

The survey was conducted today by Midgam, among 503 representative respondents, by phone and internet, with a 4.4% margin of error.

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