A majority of Israelis believe Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should immediately resign as head of the Likud party in light of his pending indictment on graft charges, according to a survey released Tuesday.
Over half of respondents (53.5 percent) to the Israel Democracy Institute poll said Netanyahu should step down now as Likud chief, while 65% believe he should do so if indicted. Twenty-four percent oppose him stepping down as leader of Likud regardless.
In light of Israel’s ongoing political deadlock, the survey also asked about support for a deal under which Netanyahu and his Blue and White rival Benny Gantz would rotate the premiership as a condition for forming a unity government.
Fifty-six percent of the public indicated support for a Gantz-Netanyahu rotation agreement, according to the poll, while 32% oppose such an arrangement.
Also, 56% of survey respondents said they support a political system that has two large parties, while a third were against this. Opposition was highest among supporters of smaller parties, particularly among the ultra-Orthodox Shas and Untied Torah Judaism parties, who have been a central part of most recent governments.
Just 41% of respondents (43% of Jews and 32% of Arabs) indicated that they support the exclusion of the ultra-Orthodox parties in the coalition. Such feelings were strongest among left-wing voters (74%) followed by centrist ones (71.2%) and right-wing voters (60%).
Finally, the poll asked whether voters would back the same party if a third round of elections were held today. All UTJ supporters said they would, as did 90% of Joint List voters, 88.5% of Likud voters, 85% of Democratic Camp voters, 84% of Blue and White voters, 76% of Yamina voters, 70% of Shas voters and 64% of Labor-Gesher voters.
In a potentially troubling sign for Avigdor Liberman, whose Yisrael Beytenu surged from five to eight seats after last month’s elections and became Knesset kingmaker, only 51.5% of Yisrael Beytenu voters said they would back the party again.
Following the past two elections, Liberman has enjoyed the role of kingmaker, with his party’s eight seats being crucial in forming almost any possible coalition. The IDI survey suggests replicating his past two election performances could be a challenge for the Yisrael Beytenu chairman.
IDI’s Guttman Center for Public Opinion and Policy Research survey was conducted on October 3-6. It was made up of 601 voters and had a 4.1% margin of error.
Netanyahu announced Monday that he would return the mandate — the opportunity to put together a government — to President Reuven Rivlin ahead of Wednesday’s deadline, blaming his failure on Gantz, Blue and White deputy head Yair Lapid, and Liberman.
Rivlin is now expected, either late Tuesday or Wednesday, to charge Gantz with the task of trying to muster a coalition that can win a Knesset majority.
On Monday, the Blue and White party issued a statement saying that “the time for spin is over” and that the party was “determined to form the liberal unity government, headed by Gantz, that the nation elected a month ago.”
It was the second consecutive time Netanyahu has been unable to build a majority. Following elections in April, Netanyahu was one seat short of a majority and pushed through a vote to dissolve the Knesset and call a snap vote rather than have another lawmaker be tasked with forming a government.
Gantz now has 28 days to try and do what Netanyahu could not. If he fails, any MK will have 21 days to obtain the support of a Knesset majority to form a government. If no one succeeds, elections will be initiated automatically — a third round inside a year after April’s and September’s inconclusive votes.
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