A survey published Thursday found that the Benjamin Netanyahu-led coalition that won 64 seats in the November 2022 elections would crash to just 45 seats in the 120-strong Knesset were elections held today.
The anti-Netanyahu, so-called “change” parties would soar to 70 seats, with the Hadash-Taal alliance winning the other five, Channel 12 reported. Benny Gantz’s National Unity party would win 36 seats, the survey found, more than double the 17 for Netanyahu’s Likud.
The channel acknowledged that it was unusual to take an election survey during a war. At the same time, it noted that usually in wars, prime ministers got a popularity boost, while their survey showed the opposite.
The polling numbers came on Day 41 of Israel’s war with Hamas, which was sparked when some 3,000 terrorists burst across the border into Israel from the Gaza Strip by land, air and sea, killing some 1,200 people and seizing over 240 hostages of all ages. In response, Israel launched its offensive on the terror group in Gaza, with the aim of destroying Hamas and all of its infrastructure.
Before October 7, Likud advisers, former politicians, and Israeli political analysts predicted that Netanyahu was betting both his liberty and his legacy on clinching a US-brokered normalization deal with Saudi Arabia.
That deal — which some analysts predicted could lead the public to forgive Netanyahu for plunging Israel into nine months of turmoil with his government’s bid to shackle and politicize the judiciary, as well as his ongoing corruption trials — is now in a deep freeze.
The Channel 12 survey gave the parties’ seats as follows (current seats in parentheses): Gantz’s National Unity party 36 seats (12); Netanyahu’s Likud 17 (32); Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid 15 (24); Shas 10 (11); Yisrael Beytenu 9 (6); United Torah Judaism 7 (7); Otzmah Yehudit 7 (14 as part of an alliance with Religious Zionism); Hadash-Taal 5 (5); Meretz 5 (0); Ra’am 5 (5); and Religious Zionism 4. Labor, which won 4 seats last November, was predicted to win no seats.
The survey was conducted Wednesday among 502 respondents by pollster Mano Geva and Midgam, and had a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points.
Were former prime minister Naftali Bennett to return to politics as the head of a party, National Unity would win 25 seats, Likud 17, Bennett 17, and Yesh Atid 14, the survey found.
And were former Mossad chief Yossi Cohen to lead a party, National Unity would win 29 seats, Likud 16, Yesh Atid 16, and Cohen’s party 12, it said.
When asked about their favored prime minister, respondents preferred Gantz to Netanyahu, 41-25%. Asked to choose between Netanyahu and Lapid, respondents were split, with each receiving 29%.
Polling data published last month, two weeks after the Hamas massacre, painted a similar picture.
An opinion poll by the Maariv newspaper found that 80% of Israelis believed Netanyahu should publicly accept responsibility for the staggering failures that led to the devastating October 7 onslaught.
The chiefs of the IDF and the Shin Bet had already taken such responsibility, as had the defense minister and finance minister.
Asked who was better suited to be prime minister, 49% picked Gantz and only 28% picked Netanyahu, with the rest undecided.
Asking respondents who they would vote, the October poll also predicted abysmal results to the current coalition — 43 seats compared to their current 64 — with Gantz’s party soaring to 40 seats from its current 12.
Carrie Keller-Lynn contributed to this report