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New poll after Gantz's departure from coalition shows Israelis prefer National Unity head over Netanyahu

Knesset Member Benny Gantz attends a plenum session and a vote on reviving the utra-Orthodox enlistment bill at the Knesset assembly hall in Jerusalem, June 11, 2024. (Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The head of Israel's National Unity party, Benny Gantz, would reportedly defeat Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a new election, according to a recent poll by the Maariv news outlet.

The poll, conducted by Panel4All on Thursday, gave Gantz 41% support compared to Netanyahu’s 35%.

Gantz, who until recently served as a minister in the War Cabinet, left the Netanyahu government in protest against Netanyahu’s policies.

When asked about comparison with other party leaders, the poll also indicated that Gantz would easily defeat Yisrael Beytenu head Avigdor Liberman with 42% to 21%.

Gantz, a former Israeli military chief, launched his political career in December 2018 when he announced the formation of a new centrist party. Despite his relative political inexperience, Gantz has emerged as one of the most popular politicians on the turbulent Israeli political stage in recent years.

Unlike all other opposition parties, Gantz decided to join the Netanyahu coalition government after the Hamas Oct. 7 invasion and terror attack, giving him a decision-making position amid the unprecedented challenges in the war against Iran's top two terror proxies Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Gantz’s decision to join the coalition government strengthened his popularity among the Israeli public. In January, Gantz surpassed Netanyahu as the most preferred politician in Israel. The poll predicted that Gantz’s party would gain 39 seats in the Knesset compared to only 16 seats for Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party, which currently has 32 seats.

Domestically, Gantz’s solid military credentials have been an important political asset. Internationally, his centrist political policies have facilitated improved relations with the Biden administration and European allies, who tend to be more critical of Netanyahu and his right-wing coalition members.

Despite some fluctuations, Gantz has consistently maintained a lead over Netanyahu in the polls in recent months.

A poll in early May indicated that Gantz continued to beat Netanyahu regarding “suitability for prime minister.”

While Netanyahu’s popularity has declined dramatically since Oct. 7, the majority of the Israelis continue to support the war goals of defeating and destroying the Hamas terrorist organization.

Gantz’s recent departure from the government was preceded by a period of growing tensions between Gantz and Netanyahu.

In March, tensions between Gantz and Netanyahu reached a peak when Gantz defied the prime minister’s wishes and traveled to the United States to meet with senior U.S. officials, including Vice President Kamala Harris and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.

When Gantz recently announced his long-expected departure from the Netanyahu-led coalition government, he presented his political rival as an obstacle to an Israeli victory.

“Netanyahu is preventing us from advancing to a real victory. That is why we are leaving the emergency government today with a heavy heart but wholeheartedly,” Gantz told the Israeli public in a televised statement.

“Months after the October disaster, the situation in the country and in the decision-making room changed. Netanyahu and his partners turned unity into an emotional appeal without connection to reality. Fateful strategic decisions are met with hesitancy and procrastination due to political considerations,” Gantz added.

Netanyahu appealed in vain to Gantz to remain in the coalition government.

However, Gantz may have gained a political advantage by first joining the war effort and then leaving the Netanyahu government, showing his active support for the war against Hamas while simultaneously distancing himself from Netanyahu critics.

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

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