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Bennett overtakes Netanyahu as prime minister in preference poll; Gantz and Netanyahu are tied

Polls show drop in support for coalition, with Religious Zionism affected the most

Then-Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett holds a press conference at the Knesset, announcing he will not be running in the next elections, June 29, 2022. (Photo: Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

A recent poll by Israel's Channel 12 News revealed that many Israelis would favor former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to lead the government over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. 

Bennett left the political scene in 2022, following the collapse of the broad coalition government which was formed after the previous coalition, based on the agreement between Netanyahu’s Likud party and Benny Gantz’s Blue and White party, collapsed. 

The broad coalition government, put together by parties currently in the opposition, lasted for one year before collapsing. 

However, since the start of the war, Bennett has served as an unofficial spokesman for Israel, defending the Jewish state against multiple claims of misconduct in Gaza in various interviews and on social media.

The Channel 12 poll asked respondents to rate their preferred candidate for the role of prime minister by presenting several options.

Bennett was the clear favorite when paired against Netanyahu, with 36% of respondents saying they would prefer him, while only 28% favored Netanyahu. Meanwhile, 31% favored neither of them, and the remainder said they did not know. 

In a matchup between Netanyahu and former War Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz, the two were tied at 32%. The poll asked respondents to choose between Netanyahu and opposition leader Yair Lapid, head of the Yesh Atid party. In that scenario, respondents preferred Netanyahu at 33%, with 28% favoring Lapid. 

Asked to rate Netanyahu’s performance during the war, 63% of respondents called his performance “poor,” while the rating for Defense Minister Yoav Gallant was roughly split; 46% thought his performance was poor, while 45% thought his performance was good. 

Far-right Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich received low ratings as well, with 65% rating Ben Gvir’s performance as poor, and 68% also rating Smotrich’s performance as poor. 

Over half of those surveyed (56%) said they would prefer the next coalition government to not include ultra-Orthodox parties, such as Shas and United Torah Judaism. 

Another poll, run by news site Maariv, found that if elections were held today, the current coalition, which controls 64 seats in the Knesset, would likely lose. The Maariv poll revealed that the current opposition would take 62 seats out of 120, while the coalition would fall to 48 seats.

In this poll, the National Unity (opposition) party of Benny Gantz would have 23 seats, while Netanyahu’s Likud party would garner 22 seats, followed by Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid (opposition) with 16 seats, Yisrael Beytenu (opposition), headed by Avigdor Liberman would have 14 seats. The ultra-Orthodox Shas party (coalition) would have 10 seats, followed by Jewish Power (coalition) with 9 seats and ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism (coalition) with 7 seats. 

The Religious Zionism party, headed by Smotrich, would not clear the electoral threshold, and would not gain any seats in the Knesset. 

The Maariv poll also asked respondents to rate their preference for the role of prime minister, however, in contrast to the Channel 12 poll, it did not include Naftali Bennett as an option, as he currently is not a part of a political party. 

In the Maariv poll, 42% of respondents preferred Benny Gantz, with 35% favoring Netanyahu. When restricted to respondents from current coalition parties, 90% favored Netanyahu for the role of prime minister. 

Despite recent disagreements within the coalition, as well as weekly protests, there are no scheduled elections in Israel and these polls are simply representative of changing public opinion.  

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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