Poll indicates Gantz losing support over unity deal with Netanyahu
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Poll indicates Gantz losing support over unity deal with Netanyahu

Majority says Blue and White leader gave up more in talks and PM unlikely to honor rotation agreement; biggest complaint against new gov’t is excessive number of ministerial posts

Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz speaking at a party rally in Tel Aviv, February 29, 2020. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz speaking at a party rally in Tel Aviv, February 29, 2020. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Blue and White leader Benny Gantz appears to be losing support among those who voted for him amid a perception he made too many concessions in the coalition deal he signed Monday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to a poll published Friday.

The Channel 12 poll found that among center-left voters, only 43% support the deal. This compared to a similar poll conducted by Channel 13 earlier in the week that found 57% of Blue and White voters were in favor of the deal.

Overall, a slight majority of the public — 56 percent — support the unity coalition agreement inked between the Likud and Blue and White party leaders, while 29% oppose the deal, according to the Channel 12 poll.

This support rose to 67% among right-wing voters, the poll found.

Despite running on a campaign to oust Netanyahu from power, Gantz announced last month that he was prepared to join a government with the Likud leader after all — to battle the coronavirus and help protect Israeli democracy.

His move caused a split in his party, with former partners Yair Lapid and Moshe Ya’alon breaking away. Lapid is now set to lead the Knesset opposition.

Blue and White leader Benny Gantz (left) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sign their unity government agreement on April 20, 2020 (courtesy)

Under the terms of the deal struck Monday, which will end over a year of political deadlock during which Israel has not had a permanent government, Gantz will become prime minister in 18 months. Until then, he will serve as defense minister and have veto power over most legislative and policy matters.

Part of the reason for the drop in support for Gantz’s decision comes from a perception that he gave up too much in the talks and a belief that Netanyahu probably won’t honor the rotation deal, the survey found.

Fifty-two percent of those polled said Gantz compromised more to form the unity government, while just 17% said Netanyahu gave up more. Among voters who identified as center-left specifically, 72% said Gantz gave up more. That figure dropped to 40% among right-identifying voters, according to the Channel 12 poll.

Only 38% of respondents believe Netanyahu will honor the rotation deal requiring him to vacate the Prime Minister’s Office in 18 months in order for Gantz to take his place. Forty-five percent of respondents said they do not believe he will do so, while 17% said they were unsure.

Sixty-eight percent of the public said that the government’s responses to the coronavirus pandemic had been appropriate, while 15% said they had been insufficient and 14% said they have been too extreme. At the same time, 48% of respondents said that the government’s handling of the economic crisis caused by the pandemic has been “overall good,” as opposed to 45% who responded that the handling has been “overall bad.”

From right to left: Blue and White party chairman Benny Gantz, Yair Lapid and Moshe Ya’alon at a faction meeting in Ramat Gan on December 25, 2019. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Asked what clause in the Likud-Blue and White deal made them most uncomfortable, 37% said it was the large number of ministers (32, rising to 36, under the terms of the deal); 21% said it was the green-lighting of Netanyahu remaining premier despite the indictments against him; 11% said it was the deal’s allowing of Health Minister Yaakov Litzman to remain in his post, despite immense public criticism and allegations of gross misconduct (Litzman is likely to take another job, however, according to reports Thursday); 11% said it was the authorization of a costly second official prime ministerial residence for whichever of Netanyahu and Gantz is “alternate prime minister”; 10% said they were not bothered by any aspect of the deal, and 3% said it was the deal’s maintaining of existing legislation regulating the draft of ultra-Orthodox men to the army.

A margin of error for the survey was not immediately available.

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