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Poll: Plurality of Israelis back change gov’t, 76% exasperated with situation

47% support power-sharing coalition between Bennett, Lapid, while 43% oppose; 83% say they feel politicians are not looking out for the citizenry

View of the Knesset in Jerusalem on August 13,2020 (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
View of the Knesset in Jerusalem on August 13,2020 (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

A plurality of Israelis support the formation of a power-sharing government led by Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid, according to a poll aired by Channel 12 Friday that also showed 76% “have had it” with the national state of affairs.

The survey showed 47 percent of Israelis back a unity government, 43% oppose it and 10% said they don’t know.

Asked which highly generalized statement best reflected their feelings, 76% said they “have had it with the state of affairs in the country,” 11% said they were “happy with the state of affairs in the country” and 13% said they did not know.

Israel has been in political turmoil for over two years, with four inconclusive elections preventing the formation of a stable, functioning government.

Asked on their attitudes toward Israel’s leaders, 83% said they felt the country’s politicians were not looking out for the citizenry, while 12% said they felt they were.

If Bennett and Lapid’s efforts to form a coalition fail, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is likely to push for the next election to be a direct one for the prime ministership.

Yamina party leader Naftali Bennett (left) and Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid during the swearing-in ceremony of the 24th Knesset, at the Knesset building in Jerusalem, April 6, 2021. (Marc Israel Sellem/Pool)

If direct elections are held, the polls showed Netanyahu still leads the pack by a wide margin: Thirty-seven percent said they would vote for Netanyahu, 23% said Lapid, 9% said Benny Gantz, 8% said Bennett and 4% said Gideon Sa’ar. Notably, a significant portion of voters, 19%, were undecided.

The poll was conducted by the Midgam institute among 506 respondents aged 18 and up, with a margin of error of 4.4%.

After Netanyahu’s failure to form a coalition during his 28-day mandate, Lapid was given a shot at doing so this week, and he and Bennett are attempting to bring together seven parties from across the political spectrum to form a unity government and end the political gridlock.

A Channel 13 poll earlier this week showed 43% of respondents back a Bennett-Lapid government while a third backed a Bennett-Netanyahu coalition.

Yamina voters, however, were not enthused about the prospect of teaming up with Lapid. Only 24% of the party’s voters supported joining a “change” government. Over half said they prefer Bennett join with Netanyahu, while a quarter opposed both options.

Bennett had supported a Netanyahu-led government following the election, but the prime minister could not muster a majority.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the Israel Prize ceremony in Jerusalem, prior to Israel’s 73rd Independence Day, on April 11, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

If new elections were held today, the poll said Likud would remain the largest party, but shrink from 30 to 28 seats. Yesh Atid would grow to 21 seats from its 17, while Yamina would become the third-largest party with 11 seats, up from its current seven.

The survey said Shas would drop to seven seats from nine, and that United Torah Judaism and Labor would stay on the seven they currently have. Blue and White would remain at eight, while both New Hope and Joint List would retain their current strength of six seats apiece.

The right-wing secularist Yisrael Beytenu party would slip to five seats from seven; Meretz would slip to five from its current six, as would the far-right Religious Zionism. The Islamist Ra’am party was forecast to again win four seats.

Overall, the “change bloc” of anti-Netanyahu parties would have 58 seats, while Netanyahu’s right-wing religious bloc would have 47 — down from its current 52 — both short of a majority in the 120-seat Knesset. Such an outcome would again position Yamina and Ra’am as potential kingmakers.

If Lapid and Bennett fail to cobble together a coalition during a 28-day window, which ends June 2, a majority of lawmakers could try to endorse any Knesset member as prime minister for 21 days. If that period fails to yield a coalition, the country would be forced into the unprecedented scenario of a fifth election in two and a half years.

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