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Poll: Majority of Israelis find neither Netanyahu nor Gantz credible

With Israel on brink of a fourth election in two years, survey underlines deep distrust in leaders; respondents split along political lines on whether PM will receive fair trial

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz attend a graduation ceremony for new Air Force pilots at the Hatzerim air base near Beersheba, June 25, 2020. (Ariel Schalit/ Pool/AFP)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz attend a graduation ceremony for new Air Force pilots at the Hatzerim air base near Beersheba, June 25, 2020. (Ariel Schalit/ Pool/AFP)

A majority of Israelis do not trust the leaders of the country’s two biggest parties, according to a poll by the Israel Democracy Institute released Monday.

The Israel Voice Index survey shows that 62 percent of Israelis view Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as having very low or moderately low credibility, while 60% say the same of Defense Minister Benny Gantz.

The poll comes as the government appears poised to dissolve and call early elections, the fourth national vote in two years, due to a stalemate over the state budget.

A plurality of respondents (48%) say that they support new elections, while 39% are opposed, according to the poll. But whether for or against, the vast majority — 83% — believe another national vote is likely in the next six months.

The survey also tested perceptions on Netanyahu’s corruption trial, the incoming Biden administration, and political cooperation between the prime minister’s Likud and the Arab Ra’am Party.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s lawyers Boaz Ben Tzur (right) and Amit Hadad (second right) at the Jerusalem District Court for a hearing on December 6, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

With Netanyahu’s trial set to enter the evidentiary stage in February, public opinion is divided on whether he will receive a fair trial, with 43.5% of respondents thinking he will not and 44.5% believing he will. That was split along political affiliation, with those who identified as right-wing saying that the prime minister would not receive a fair trial, while center-left respondents say he would.

Netanyahu is on trial for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three cases. He denies the charges.

Among Arab Israelis, 41% favor the newfound political cooperation between Netanyahu and Mansour Abbas of the Ra’am Party, part of the Joint List alliance, while 34% oppose it. Among Jewish Israelis, just 29% back it. The coordination between Netanyahu and Abbas has been condemned by many Arab lawmakers and prompted speculation it could force the Joint List to dissolve.

Joint List MK Mansour Abbas in an interview on DemocratTV, October 27, 2020. (Twitter screen capture)

Also according to the poll, most Israelis (74%) believe that the incoming Biden administration will be less friendly to Israel than the outgoing Trump White House, with only 12.5% believing that it will be more supportive.

Trump won support in Israel for recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, declaring the Golan Heights to be Israeli, and for his hard line on Iran, among other policies.

The telephone and internet survey, conducted by the Midgam Institute on behalf of IDI, interviewed 607 people in Hebrew and 150 in Arabic between November 30 and December 2. The margin of error was 3.7%.

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