Benny Gantz’s center-right National Unity party has restored its lead over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud, which seemed to lose the brief boost it gained following a five-day IDF operation in Gaza at the beginning of the month, according to a poll published Tuesday.
The poll placed the parties that made up the previous unity coalition in a comfortable lead ahead of the Netanyahu-led current ruling bloc — 63 to 53 in the 120-member Knesset.
National Unity, which won 12 Knesset seats in last November’s election, slowly gained on the 32-seat Likud in recent months amid widespread dismay over the government’s effort to radically overhaul the judiciary. The boom for Gantz’s party also appeared to come at the expense of Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid, which sits just to its left on the political spectrum and has taken a more hardline stance in its opposition to the overhaul and more strict conditions for a compromise with the coalition on the matter.
Support for Gantz appeared to peak last month in the weeks that followed Netanyahu’s decision to temporarily pause the overhaul and engage in negotiations with the opposition for a compromise, which have yet to bear fruit. National Unity received as many as 30 seats in some late April polls, while Likud’s seat count dropped to as low as 22.
The trend appeared to reverse during and immediately after the May 9 to 13 Operation Shield and Arrow launched by the IDF during which it eliminated much of PIJ’s top military brass.
Polls after the war indicated that Likud had managed to close the gap against National Unity and respondents said they preferred Netanyahu over Gantz as premier when the two were matched up head-to-head.
But Tuesday’s Channel 12 survey indicated that public dissatisfaction with the government’s performance remains.
Israel is not currently in an election period and the next scheduled vote is slated for the end of 2026 — though it could come at any time if the government falls. Nevertheless, such polls — which are not necessarily reliable — are often said to exert great influence on politicians and parties.
The latest survey found that if elections were held today, National Unity would receive 28 seats — two more than the 26 Likud would receive.
Yesh Atid would receive 18 seats and the far-right Religious Zionism alliance (currently at 14) would receive 10 seats. If the joint slate’s two main parties ran separately, Itamar Ben Gvir’s Otzma Yehudit faction would receive six seats while Bezalel Smotrich’s faction would receive four seats, the survey found.
The poll indicated that the Mizrahi ultra-Orthodox Shas party and the Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism party would remain at 10 and seven seats, respectively; the secular right-wing Yisrael Beytenu party would remain at six seats; the Islamist Ra’am party would climb from five to six seats; the left-wing Meretz party, which did not cross the electoral threshold in the previous election, would receive five seats, ostensibly at the expense of the center-left Labor party, which would not make it into the Knesset; and the majority-Arab Hadash-Ta’al party would drop from five to four seats.
Asked who is preferred as premier, Gantz restored his lead over Netanyahu, with 36 percent of respondents backing the National Unity leader over the Likud chairman’s 34%. Placed against Lapid in a head-to-head matchup, Netanyahu maintained his lead at 38% to 28%.
The survey asked voters their preferred scenario for the judicial overhaul negotiations. Forty percent said reform should only be instituted if it enjoys broad consensus in both political camps. Twenty-nine percent said the overhaul effort should be scrapped completely, while just 15% of the public said the coalition’s proposals should be jammed through the Knesset unilaterally.
Among voters of coalition parties, just 29% said the overhaul legislation should be passed unilaterally, compared to 46% who prefer that the bills receive broad consensus backing.
Respondents were also asked whether they would back a plea agreement in Netanyahu’s criminal trial that would see him bow out of politics while avoiding jail time. Forty-three percent of respondents said they supported the idea, compared to 37% who opposed it. Among opposition party voters, 63% backed the idea, compared to 24% who opposed it.
The Channel 12 survey polled 510 people both online and over the phone earlier Tuesday and had a 4.4% margin of error.