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Poll: Plurality prefers top health official’s pandemic policies over Bennett’s

Sharon Alroy Preis, who has taken a more conservative approach in favor of restrictions, receives 43% approval rating from public, compared to PM’s 31%

Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, head of public health services at the Health Ministry,  speaks at a press conference in Jerusalem on August 29, 2021. On the left is Nachman Ash, director-general of the Health Minstry. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, head of public health services at the Health Ministry, speaks at a press conference in Jerusalem on August 29, 2021. On the left is Nachman Ash, director-general of the Health Minstry. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

A plurality of the public prefers the Health Ministry’s chief of public health services more conservative approach to handling the pandemic over that of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, a Friday TV poll revealed.

Asked who they agree with more, 43 percent of respondents to the Channel 12 survey said Sharon Alroy-Preis, 31% said Bennett and 26% declined to answer.

The results follow a week in which Bennett publicly criticized Alroy-Preis and other top health officials, even using his address at the United Nations to assert that they are not the ones who decide government policy. Bennett was even harsher in his criticism in a subsequent briefing to reporters while in New York. He later toned down the rhetoric, assuring the health officials that they have his backing during a meeting on Thursday.

Alroy-Preis has in many respects become the face of the government’s pandemic policies. She has long been vilified in anti-vaxxer and pandemic-skeptic circles, but has also faced anonymous attacks from within the cabinet for her supposed alarmist stance in deliberations. She also has been accused of flip-flopping on her position regarding the booster shot, regarding which she expressed apprehensions initially before coming around to back the initiative.

The poll also showed how politics appears to have crept into the thought process of those judging Alroy-Preis.

A slight majority of right-wing voters — 54% — support the chief of public health services, compared to only 22% who support Bennett. Among left-wing voters, 45% support Bennett, who has opposed restrictions that would lock down the economy, compared to 30% who prefer Alroy-Preis’s more conservative approach.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett speaks to reporters in New York before boarding a plane back to Israel, September 29, 2021. (Lazar Berman/Times of Israel)

While Bennett’s approval rating was not as strong as Alroy-Preis’s, the Channel 12 poll indicated an improvement for the prime minister, compared to the previous survey. A month ago, the number of people who viewed him favorably was 9% lower.

The survey conducted by Midgam also asked respondents to give grades to various government ministers after their first 100 days in office. The most popular minister was Defense Minister Benny Gantz, whom 59% of respondents said has done a good job compared to 28% who said he’s done a bad job.

The second most popular minister among those polled was Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, receiving a 46% approval rating, compared to 42%  who disapprove. Foreign Minister Yair Lapid received 45% positive compared to 42% negative.

Regarding Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton, who has arguably been the most vilified minister in the press due to stances perceived as sympathetic to the anti-vaxxer movement, 42% of respondents said she is doing a good job, compared to 45% who said she is doing a poor job.

Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar received 39% approval compared to 36% disapproval. Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli received 39% approval compared to 43% disapproval.

Thirty-eight percent of respondents thought Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel is doing a good job, compared to 31%, who said he is doing a bad job. Thirty-six percent of respondents thought Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked is going a good job, compared to 44%, who said she is doing a bad job. Thirty-five percent of respondents thought Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman is doing a good job, compared to 50%, who said he is doing a bad job.

The network did not reveal what the margin of error was for the survey or how many respondents were included.

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