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Netanyahu-led opposition bloc gains ground with voters, nearing majority, poll finds

Survey gives bloc led by ex-PM 59 seats, to current coalition’s 55, with mainly Arab Joint List holding balance; most voters think government will collapse within 6 months

Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu addresses a party meeting at the Knesset, on May 23, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu addresses a party meeting at the Knesset, on May 23, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The opposition led by Benjamin Netanyahu is gaining ground with voters, and inching closer to being able to win a majority in the Knesset, according to a poll released on Friday.

The Channel 12 survey also found that most Israelis think the current government will collapse within six months, and that more Israelis support Netanyahu for prime minister than any other candidate.

If an election was held today, Netanyahu’s opposition bloc would win 59 seats, just shy of a majority in the 120-seat Knesset. The parties in Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s governing coalition would be reduced to 55 seats, according to the poll.

The parties in the Netanyahu-led bloc won 52 seats in last year’s election.

The Arab majority Joint List faction, which is in the opposition but against Netanyahu and his bloc of right-wing and religious parties, would hold the balance with six seats.

The results suggest further political deadlock if the government collapses. Israel has been through four grueling elections since 2019 as the opposing blocs struggle to form a sturdy majority in the Knesset.

The Channel 12 poll found that if fresh elections were held, Netanyahu’s Likud party would win the most seats with 35; followed by Foreign Minister Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party with 17; Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s Blue and White, 10; the far-right Religious Zionism, 8; the ultra-Orthodox Shas, 9, the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism, 7; the Joint List, 6; the center-left Labor, 6; Bennett’s Yamina, 5; the coalition’s right-wing Yisrael Beytenu, 5, and New Hope, 4; the Islamist Ra’am, 4; and the dovish Meretz, 4.

The survey was carried out on Thursday by the Manu Geva polling company. Channel 12 did not provide its sample size or margin of error.

When paired off against the leaders of the coalition, respondents deemed Netanyahu the “most suitable for the role of prime minister.”

When asked whether they preferred Netanyahu or Bennett as prime minister, 46% favored the opposition leader, and 21% the incumbent, with the remaining respondents saying neither one or they didn’t know.

When compared to Lapid, 46% favored Netanyahu and 24% supported the foreign minister. With Gantz, Netanyahu garnered 44%, and the defense minister 21%.

Almost a year since the last election, most Israelis — 58% — do not think the coalition will last another six months. The government has been teetering since Yamina lawmaker Idit Silman jumped ship last month, stripping Bennett’s government of its parliamentary majority.

Only 12% of respondents thought the government will survive until the end of its mandate in 2025, and 44% don’t think it will last another three months.

A plurality of 47% of respondents said they agreed that the coalition relied on “terror supporters,” a common charge from Netanyahu and his allies, who claim that the Islamist Ra’am party’s participation in the government has weakened Israel’s security. Forty-three percent disagreed with the statement and 10% said they didn’t know.

When asked whether the coalition or Likud won a showdown this week over legislation granting tuition scholarships to IDF veterans, 25% of respondents said the government won, 21% said Likud won, 20% believed both parties won and 13% answered that they didn’t know.

In that standoff, Likud had opposed a popular coalition bill granting scholarships to combat veterans, blocking its approval in the Knesset. Netanyahu’s party accepted a last-minute compromise from Gantz, allowing the legislation to pass.

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