More Israelis prefer National Unity party leader Benny Gantz as prime minister to incumbent Benjamin Netanyahu if paired against each other in a head-to-head matchup, according to a television poll released Friday.
Asked who is better suited to be premier, 38 percent of respondents to the Channel 12 survey said Gantz and 31% said Netanyahu. Another 25% said neither while the remaining 6% said they didn’t know.
The poll also asked who between Netanyahu and opposition leader Yair Lapid is better suited to be prime minister, with each picking up 32% of respondents. Twenty-nine percent said neither and 7% said they were unsure.
The survey came at the end of a politically turbulent week that began with Netanyahu announcing Defense Minister Yoav Gallant’s dismissal after the latter publicly called for the government to halt its planned overhaul of the judiciary.
The move further galvanized protesters who have taken to the streets at least twice a week for nearly three months and prompted a declaration of a general strike, which was called off after Netanyahu said he would temporarily pause the judicial legislation to allow for negotiations with the opposition with the aim of securing broad consensus for any changes.
Despite saying he would axe Gallant, Netanyahu has yet to send him a formal letter of dismissal, leaving the defense minister in limbo as he remains in the post.
The Channel 12 survey asked whether Netanyahu should fire Gallant, with 67% saying no and 17% yes. Among supporters of Netanyahu’s right-religious bloc, a majority — 57% — said no and 23% said yes.
Additionally, respondents were polled on whether they believe Netanyahu is open to true dialogue on the judicial shakeup plans, as he has repeatedly insisted. Sixty-one percent said they do not believe him while 29% think he’s being genuine.
Earlier this week, the same network and the Kan public broadcaster both released polls that found the ruling coalition would lose its majority if elections were held today. Gantz’s party was the big winner in both surveys, which forecast that the opposition factions that comprised most of the previous government would be able to form a coalition.
The attorney general has warned that the coalition’s current package of legislation — which would give the coalition almost complete control over all judicial appointments, and radically constrain the High Court — would hand the government virtually unrestrained power, without providing any institutional protections for individual rights or for Israel’s democratic character.