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New poll shows Bennett-Lapid government unpopular, but no other viable options

A plurality of Israelis prefer the former coalition to the current one, but new elections would only produce fresh deadlock

Opposition Likud party leader Benjamin Netanyahu walks next to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett during the vote on the state budget, in the Knesset on November 4, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Opposition Likud party leader Benjamin Netanyahu walks next to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett during the vote on the state budget, in the Knesset on November 4, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Some six months since the formation of a disparate eight-party ruling coalition led by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, a poll published by Channel 12 news Sunday showed that the current government is largely unpopular.

But the survey also showed that there are precious few other options, as new elections would continue the parliamentary deadlock that plagued Israel for some two years and four elections.

The poll showed that nearly twice as many Israelis prefer opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu as prime minister to Bennett or Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid.

If elections were held today, 45 percent of respondents said that they would like the Likud chairman to be prime minister — compared to only 25% who would prefer Bennett, and 24% who would prefer Lapid.

Bennett’s approval numbers may have been impacted by a public uproar over a recent overseas trip by his family, taken after Bennett recommended against travel in light of the new Omicron coronavirus variant.

When asked what government they preferred, 43% said they preferred the previous government led by Netanyahu, while 36% preferred the current government led by Bennett and Lapid. Others had no clear answer.

But Netanyahu still lacked a viable path to forming a government if elections were held today, with only 57 seats to his bloc of right-wing and religious parties. Meanwhile the current coalition would lose four seats, sitting at 57 as well.

The Joint List, a smaller coalition of four predominantly Arab parties, would hold the other six.

The poll showed Likud climbing to 34 seats, above the 30 the party currently holds; Yesh Atid would receive 19 seats, two more than its current 17; Shas and Blue and White would get 9; Labor, United Torah Judaism, and Religious Zionism 7 each; Yamina, Joint List, and Yisrael Beytenu 6 each; Meretz and Ra’am 5 apiece; and New Hope would crash out, receiving no seats (the party currently has six).

Of current ministers, Defense Minister Benny Gantz fared the best, with 55% satisfied with his overall performance, compared to 33% who were dissatisfied. Meanwhile, Lapid earned 42% approval against 47% disapproval.

Several ministers received relatively low marks: Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman got 35% approval compared to 56% who disapproved, and Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked received 33% approval compared to 51% who said her performance is poor.

A plurality of Israelis also said they were against the rotation agreement between Bennett and Lapid going forward (Lapid is set to become prime minister in August 2023): 44% oppose the rotation, 40% support it, and 16% don’t know.

The survey, conducted by pollster Manu Geva, included 509 respondents and had a 4.4 percent margin of error.

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