A television poll has found that if elections were to be held today, parties currently in the government coalition would drop by several seats into a minority in the Knesset, but the opposition bloc of parties led by Likud would also fall short of a majority.
The Channel 13 news survey, released Monday, showed Likud would win 36 seats, Yesh Atid 18, Religious Zionism 9, Yamina 8, Joint List 8, Blue and White 7, Shas 7, UTJ 7, Labor 6, Yisrael Beytenu 5, Meretz 5, and New Hope 4.
Ra’am, an Islamist party in the coalition whose current four seats played a key role in helping Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s government gain power, would not pass the minimum threshold needed to reenter parliament.
However, coalition member New Hope, which previous Channel 13 surveys showed would not get enough support to return to the Knesset, was predicted to squeak through with four, down from its current six.
The results showed that the opposition bloc led by MK Benjamin Netanyahu would have 59 seats, while parties that make up the current coalition would have just 53. The remaining eight seats would be held by the Joint List, an Arab member party that historically has never joined an Israeli government.
Likud would gain the most in an election, according to the survey, increasing by seven the number of seats it holds from its current 29.
Party leader Netanyahu also remains the most popular choice for prime minister, with 46 percent of respondents saying they want to see him return to the post. The next-nearest challenger was Foreign Minister Yair Lapid with 15%, then Bennett with 9%, equal to that of Defense Minister Benny Gantz.
Respondents were almost equally divided on what is the best course forward for the country. While 33% are in favor of fresh elections, 29% want the current government to continue and a similar 29% want it to be switched by a different coalition within the current Knesset.
The government is teetering after losing its majority last month with the defection to the opposition of MK Idit Silman, the coalition whip and a member of Bennett’s own party. It now holds 60 seats in the Knesset, equal to the opposition, which is engaged in a campaign to pry more coalition members away in an effort to bring down the government. On Monday the coalition successfully fended off two no-confidence votes.
A political stalemate saw four inconclusive elections over a period of two and a half years, after which Bennett was finally able to cobble together eight diverse parties from the left, center and right, along with Ra’am, to form a government in June 2021.
The political turmoil comes as the country has over the past month or so been in the grip of a wave of deadly terror attacks. Asked to grade from 1-10 their feeling of personal safety, respondents returned an average score of 4.24, though nearly a quarter, 23%, gave the lowest grading of just 1.
In addition, 66% said the government is not handling the terror wave well, as opposed to 24% who said it is.
Respondents were also asked specifically about the option of Israel assassinating Hamas terror group leader Yihai Sinwar in the Gaza Strip. Hamas has vowed a massive assault on Israel, including a resumption of suicide bombings, if its leaders are targeted. Only 32% of the poll respondents backed the measure, even if it led to a broad military operation in Gaza. A smaller number, 27%, were in favor of assassinating Sinwar but only if it doesn’t involve a major military operation in the Palestinian enclave. A further 20% said they were against killing Sinwar.
Half the respondents said that Ra’am’s presence in the government was having a negative impact on security policies, while just 8% said it was a benefit. Twenty-seven percent said Ra’am is not influencing security policies.
The poll was carried out by Kamil Fuchs and had a margin of error of 3.8 percentage points. It sampled 697 people, of whom 601 were Jewish and 96 were not.