Most believe Netanyahu’s wartime decision-making mainly motivated by personal interest

Wartime survey shows Gantz’s National Unity soaring, finds public prefers both Gantz (48%) and Eisenkot (45%) to Netanyahu (32%) as PM; 46% oppose Gaza ceasefire for hostage release

Minister Benny Gantz (center) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) arrive for a press conference at the Defense Ministry, in Tel Aviv, December 16, 2023. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)
Minister Benny Gantz (center) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) arrive for a press conference at the Defense Ministry, in Tel Aviv, December 16, 2023. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

If elections were held today, some three and a half months into the war against Hamas in Gaza, Minister Benny Gantz’s National Unity would be well-placed to form a coalition, ousting Benjamin Netanyahu, according to a poll published Sunday.

When asked what values motivate Netanyahu in his wartime decision-making, 53% in the Channel 13 survey said they believe he is primarily motivated by personal interest, and only 33% said he is acting for the good of the country.

The survey found that Gantz’s National Unity would be the largest party in the Knesset with 37 seats, up from its current 12. It gave the Likud party under the leadership of Netanyahu 16 seats, half its current 32, while the third biggest party in the Knesset would be Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid, with 14 seats, down from its current 24.

According to the poll (current number of seats in parentheses), Shas (11) and Yisrael Beytenu (6) would each get 9 seats, Itamar Ben Gvir’s far-right Otzma Yehudit (7) would get 8, United Torah Judaism would stay stable at 7, Religious Zionism (4) would get 6, Hadash-Taal and Ra’am would stay stable at 5 each, and Meretz (0) would just pass the electoral threshold to get 4 seats.

The Arab Balad party and the center-left Labor party would fall below the threshold to enter the Knesset.

According to the poll, the parties in Netanyahu’s prewar coalition would win 46 Knesset seats compared to the 64 they won in the November 2022 elections, while parties in the previous ruling coalition would win 69 seats in the 120-member Knesset.

The war in Gaza erupted with Hamas’s brutal October 7 massacres, which saw thousands of terrorists burst across the border into Israel, killing some 1,200 people and seizing over 250 hostages — mostly civilians — under the cover of a deluge of thousands of rockets fired at Israeli towns and cities.

If Economy Minister Nir Barkat were at the helm of the Likud party instead of Netanyahu, the survey found the party would rise to 21 seats, while the National Unity party would lose two seats and Yesh Atid, Yisrael Beytenu and Religious Zionism would each lose one seat.

File – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right), and Economy Minister Nir Barkat in the Knesset on February 22, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

With Minister Gadi Eisenkot leading the National Unity party instead of Gantz, respondents would give the party an extra two seats, bringing it to 39, while Yesh Atid and Religious Zionism would each lose one seat.

The poll found that the public preferred both Gantz (48%) and Eisenkot (45%) over Netanyahu (32%) as prime minister. But if the choice were between Lapid and Netanyahu, 41% of respondents favored the premier and only 36% expressed support for the Yesh Atid leader.

In recent weeks Eisenkot, a former IDF chief, appeared to criticize Netanyahu’s management of the ongoing war with Hamas, suggesting that talk of complete victory over the terror group was unrealistic and indicating that new elections should be held within months to restore public trust in government following the devastating October 7 attack.

War cabinet minister Gadi Eisenkot speaks to Channel 12’s “Uvda” program in a segment that aired January 18, 2024. (Channel 12 screenshot, used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Eisenkot’s National Unity party joined Netanyahu’s coalition on an emergency footing in a demonstration of political unity after the October 7 terror onslaught.

Half of the respondents said that Gantz and the National Unity party need to stay in the government, while 28% believe they should leave.

Regarding next steps for the war with Hamas in Gaza, 46% of respondents said Israel should not accept an agreement to secure the release of all remaining hostages in Gaza in exchange for a halt to fighting and the release of all Hamas prisoners held by Israel. Thirty-five percent supported such a deal, and 19% were undecided.

According to reports earlier in January, Eisenkot has been pushing for far-reaching steps to bring the hostages home, while Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant insist that continuing the military campaign launched after the October 7 attacks is crucial to bringing about the hostages’ release.

It is believed that 132 hostages abducted by Hamas on October 7 remain in Gaza, not all of them alive.

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