Benny Gantz’s Blue and White party would win just nine of the 120 parliamentary seats if Knesset elections were held today, even as Israelis sour on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s response to the coronavirus crisis, according to a pair of television polls on Sunday night,
The survey by Channel 13 was conducted on the backdrop of reports that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is looking for a pretext to dissolve the unity government to prevent Defense Minister Gantz from becoming premier in November 2021, and due to coalition disagreements with Blue and White.
Netanyahu is reportedly interested in fresh elections — the fourth since April 2019 — due to favorable polls. Sunday’s poll was no different and predicted a landslide victory for the premier’s right-wing bloc.
The ruling Likud party would get 38 seats in the 120-member parliament, the Channel 13 poll said, improving on its current 36, though down from previous opinion polls that gave him more than 40. Right-wing parties would altogether pick up some 64 seats, however, picking up a clear Knesset majority, the poll indicated.
Gantz’s centrist Blue and White would collapse to 9 seats, its lowest showing yet in surveys, down from its current 33 — a tally which includes the Yair Lapid-led Yesh Atid-Telem party, which refused to join the government.
Lapid’s party would get 16 seats, as would the predominantly Arab Joint List, which would gain a seat.
The Yamina right-wing religious alliance would almost double its power, from its current 6 to 11. Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu would get 8 seats (up from 7), Shas would get 8 (down from 9), United Torah Judaism would get 7 (the same number as today) and Meretz would grow from its current 3 to 7.
Labor, Orly Levy-Abekasis’s Gesher, and Yoaz Hendel and Zvi Hauser’s Derech Eretz would all fail to enter the Knesset, the poll found.
The survey was conducted by Prof. Camil Fuchs’s institute, among 705 respondents, with the maximum sampling error at 3.9%.
Netanyahu’s ratings on pandemic response slip
According to a second television poll published Sunday evening, the Israeli public is increasingly displeased with Netanyahu’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and the accompanying economic fallout.
Asked how they rate Netanyahu’s performance in addressing the COVID-19 outbreak in health terms, 58 percent of respondents to the Channel 12 survey said they approved, compared to 36% who disapproved.
When asked the same question on May 8, 74% approved and 23% disapproved.
Concerning Netanyahu’s handling of the economic aspects of the virus, only 35% said they approved, while 58% gave him a thumbs down.
In the May poll, 53% had approved and 43% disapproved.
The poll was conducted Sunday by the Midgam institution among 503 respondents representing Israel’s adult population, who were contacted by phone or online. The maximum sampling error was 4.4%.
Respondents were also asked about the government’s recent controversial decision to hand Netanyahu retroactive tax breaks for his and his family’s personal expenses.
When asked, 56% said they opposed Netanyahu’s request, while just 24% supported it. Even among those who identified as right-wing, 45% opposed the request and 34% backed it.